ARCADIA — Just one evening removed from pulling off an extra-inning comeback win in pool play of the Apache Invitational, the St. Francis High baseball team came close to an encore in the tournament's consolation round on Saturday.
The Golden Knights finally got to La Salle starter Bowdien "Bubba" Derby in the bottom of the sixth inning, scoring twice to slice a four-run deficit in half, but they couldn't finish the senior right-hander off. Instead, it was Derby finishing St. Francis off, when he got out of the sixth with the go-ahead run at the plate and retired the side in order in the seventh to cap a complete-game 6-4 victory with six hits and three earned runs allowed, while fanning 10.
"That's baseball, those guys can't be expected to give us a walk-off every game," said St. Francis interim Coach Aaron Milam, who got a single and a double from David Olmedo-Barrera and a two-run double from Cole Ramseyer. "I'm glad that we stuck with it, we battled with it and we came back through there in the end."
Derby struck out the side in the fifth and appeared to be well on his way to doing it again after he retired the first two Golden Knights he faced on seven pitches. But Anders Schraer came through with a two-out single to left field to start a rally and was soon joined on base by Tom Scheper, who walked.
Ramseyer then ripped one down the first-base line that allowed both Schraer and Scheper to score standing up. Pete Hofman walked to keep the inning going, but after a mound visit, Derby settled down and induced a nubber back to the mound.
St. Francis tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the second inning when Tei Vanderford got on via a fielding error, moved to second on a hit by pitch, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a double steal. But the Golden Knights lost their footing in the third inning, where five walks, including two with the bases loaded, led to three Lancers runs. The only hit of the frame came from Chris Williams, who went three for three with three runs batted in, on a double to left field that scored Antonio Ruiz.
"We preach [patience], we want them to be good hitters up there" La Salle Coach Harry Agajanian said. "We want to be a good team offense and that means you've got to take some pitches and go after the ones you can do some damage with."
La Salle added two more in the fourth, this time on a parade of five hits, including Williams' single up the middle with the bases loaded that plated Ruiz and Derby.
St. Francis inched closer in the bottom of the fourth when Vanderford smoked a leadoff double to deep center field and came around to score on consecutive groundouts.
"They wanted to win that game, it was very important for them," Milam said of La Salle. "We're St. Francis, they're La Salle and it's a big game for them."