PASADENA — The window of opportunity for the St. Francis High baseball team to make the CIF playoffs out of the Mission League remains open, although the Golden Knights' recently completed two-game series with Harvard-Westlake certainly didn't do much to help the cause.
After losing by 10 runs in a shutout on the road Tuesday, St. Francis was beaten, 9-3, by the Wolverines at Jackie Robinson Field on Friday afternoon for their fourth loss in a row and third straight in league.
It was also the first time the Golden Knights had been swept in a league series this season, but St. Francis assistant Aaron Milam, who coached in place of Brian Esquival on Friday after the latter was ejected from Tuesday's game, said there is still plenty of time to right the ship.
"We're in a little bit of a lull right now," said Milam, whose team fell to 8-9 and 3-5 in league, where it's currently lumped into the middle of the pack with Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (3-5) and Loyola, which was 3-4 in league heading into Friday's league tilt with first-place Chaminade (6-1). "This league gets four teams out of it to go to the playoffs and you've just got to be over .500 to qualify. We still have a chance, we're still in this. Getting swept by one team doesn't mean anything.
"It is not to late to get hot. …We've got a few things to work on, but if we can fine tune some things, I think we'll be OK."
St. Francis committed eight errors on Tuesday and began Friday's game with a two-base error in fielding Brian Ginsberg's leadoff single that put Ginsberg in position to score on a sacrifice fly by Wes Peacock one batter later.
After taking a 1-0 lead into the second inning, Harvard-Westlake (14-5, 5-1) chipped away at Golden Knights starter Ryan Garcia over the next two frames, scoring on a throwing error on an attempt to gun down a stealing runner in the second inning and adding two more in the third on a groundout with the bases loaded followed by a run-scoring single by Jordan Orringer.
Harvard-Westlake scored two more runs off reliever Chris Longo in the fourth inning on run-scoring singles by Arden Pabst and Jack Flaherty.
St. Francis' own offensive chances over the first three innings were snuffed out by a runner caught stealing third base in the first and a double play in the third before the Golden Knights were able to touch the Wolverines starter Flaherty (two earned runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings) for a pair of runs in the fourth.
Finally getting some breaks, the Golden Knights saw Jefferson Nolan reach base on a fielding error and take third on a throwing error on the same play and then, after David Olmedo-Barrera had walked and moved to third on a groundout, David Hubinger's ground ball ricocheted off second base and into the outfield for a two-run single.
But St. Francis would fail to get the most out of subsequent opportunities, leaving two runners aboard in the fifth inning and getting just one run in the sixth, off a Brandon Van Horn two-out base hit, despite having three of their first four batters in the inning reach safely.
"Those runs have got to be scored and they've got to be pushed across," Milam said. "We just didn't execute today."
Meanwhile, Harvard-Westlake fortified its lead with three more runs in the sixth inning off a towering two-run shot by Pabst and a sacrifice fly to score Flaherty, who tripled.