Knights fall in league opener against Cubs

PASADENA — If a baseball team plans to implement small ball in order to manufacture runs, it better not make mistakes while in the field.

If a squad relies on bunts, steals and infield singles to get runners home, then errors, hit batters and passed balls need to be held to a minimum.

It was the little things that did in the St. Francis High baseball team in losing its Mission League opener to Loyola, 6-2, at Jackie Robinson Field at Brookside Park on Monday afternoon.

"Coaching is interesting," said St. Francis assistant Coach Aaron Milam, whose team fell to 3-5. "It's like a video game. You've got to play with the type of kids you've got. You've got to tailor your approach to your personnel. This is the type of personnel we've got."

Milam filled in for Coach Brian Esquival, who was absent from Monday's game due to personal reasons.

The Golden Knights found themselves down 3-0 early, but added a run in the third inning when Tei Vanderford drove in David Olmedo-Barrera. Olmedo-Barrera reached on an infield single and stole second, putting him in scoring position.

"We're not going to be a big power-hitting team," said Olmedo-Barrera, who finished with two hits. "Part of our team is knowing our approach and knowing that we have to play small ball and do little things.

"That's how we're going to get runs and win games. We just need to get on base and do our thing after that. Hopefully it works out later on."

St. Francis added another run in the sixth inning when Jeff Garavaglia singled, stole second and reach third on a sacrifice before James LaManna drove him in with a single.

The Golden Knights managed seven hits, all singles.

"We're trying to establish some consistency in the way we do things both defensively and offensively," Milam said. "We have a resilient group of kids here. I have no doubt they'll improve."

The Cubs jumped out to 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a hit batter and passed ball. A St. Francis error in the second allowed for another run and a 3-0 Loyola lead. The Cubs added three more runs in the seventh after the Golden Knights hadcut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth.

St. Francis pitcher Will Larkin allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked four. Larkin settled down as the game progressed, and threw an impressive five-pitch fourth inning.

"He's a tough kid," Milam said. "He tends to get established later in the game."

Loyola (4-1-1) starting pitcher Kevin Carswell allowed two runs and seven hits, while striking out five and walking two in 5 2/3 innings. Teammate Quinn Brodey had two hits, including a double and drove in a run and scored a run.

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