May 3rd, 2018

No. 1 St. X beats No. 2 PRP in a wild, crazy game

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

No. 1 St. X beats No. 2 PRP in a wild, crazy game
St. Xavier's Bryce Harkins throws a pitch / photo by Conor Revell

A lot was on the line when the state two best teams met, top-ranked St. Xavier was trying to stay undefeated, and No. 2 Pleasure Ridge Park celebrated the life of legendary and Hall of Fame head coach Bill Miller who passed away of lung cancer last week. 

It was a wild game, but St. X scored four runs in the sixth and eight in the seventh inning to break a tie and whipped host and defending state champion PRP 17-5 at the newly named Bill Miller Field Wednesday night. 

Aric Lyons delivered a 2-RBI base hit to the Tigers a 7-5 lead in the sixth, Trey Sweeney followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly, and Cam Scheler had an RBI base hit. 

“Aric and Cam are both seeing the ball really well,” St. X head coach Andy Porta said. “Cam is a Southend boy and he felt that he had something to prove. Aric is using a simple approach and is not letting his head get involved. He has been hitting the ball and been on fire the last few weeks. Cam has been up and down while Aric and Trey have been our most consistent hitters all-year.”

Lyons had a big night going 3 for 4 with a home run and five RBIs while Scheler went 3 for 4 with five runs batted in. 

“I think we just got to them,” Lyons said. “The stress got to them. We hit the ball hard and I think that wears on a team when it happens over and over.”

The 17 runs are the most PRP (17-3) has allowed since April 1st, 2014 when they gave up 16 against Brito (Fla.).  

“We broke it open,” Scheler said. “We got a little momentum and got it started early in both innings and had a lot of energy. We put quality at bats together and that was contagious.”

Perhaps the momentum shifter was when St. X pitcher Evan Burnett got out of a bases loaded jam unscathed with nobody out in the fifth by getting an infield fly, strikeout, and ground out. 

“That was awesome,” Burnett said. “I just had to slow the game down, take a deep breath and stayed within myself. Me and Coach were talking about how we were going through the lineup for a second or third time and that perhaps I could try and keep them off balance with the curveball and then throw the fastball. I just wanted to get a groundball and get out of the inning.”

Had PRP been able to capitalize, the outcome might have been different.

“I think that was huge,” Porta said. “We then scored in the next half inning and that gives him the W. The bases loaded and nobody out, it had been a back and forth affair, they had a chance to make a statement there. He’s the Player of the Game. That’s incredible and that’s senior leadership. It really is.”

The Tigers (19-0) went up 4-0 in the top half of the third on Aric Lyons run-scoring double, Cam Scheler’s 2-RBI single, who made it to third when the PRP center-fielder mishandled the base hit, and scored Andrew Littlefield’s single. 

But, the Panthers answered with four runs in the bottom half, two because of errors. Nick Palummo doubled and scored when the Tigers mishandled Dalton Smith’s grounder. 

“I think we need to be better with our execution all-around,” Scheler said. “Our fielding was sloppy at times, our pitching didn’t get ahead in the count, but we stuck with it and battled. If we clean up the errors and execution, we will be alright.”

Akbar’s suicide squeeze scored the second run and PRP tied it when Matt Cavanaugh hit a sacrifice fly and the tying run scored when the Tiger right fielder made a bad throw to third trying to gun out Reed Blaszcyk. 

“Defensively we were horrible,” Porta said. “The three errors were bad, but some of our decisions, our mental decisions were horrible too. We have a lot to work on there and a lot of it is staying mentally focused and making better throws. A couple of times we tried to turn double plays when we had no chance of making the play at first and we risked throwing it away. We have a lot of work to do defensively.”

Lyons hit a solo bomb over the left field wall to make it 5-4 in the fourth, but PRP tied it back up in the bottom half on Smith’s RBI single. 

“I got a couple of curveballs early in the count,” Lyons said. “I got four in a row so I was looking for a fastball and I got it. I hit the sweet spot; it carried a little bit, and happened to go over the fence.”

Bryce Harkins started on the mound for St. X and tossed 3 & 1/3 innings and allowed five runs, three earned, three hits, and walked three. 

Burnett pitched 1 & 1/3 innings in relief and allowed no runs, two hits, and stuck out one. 

Sweeney pitched the sixth and walked one. Lyons pitched the seventh and allowed one hit. 

Garrett Schmeltz started on the hill for PRP and allowed five runs, four earned eight hits, struck out five, and walked four in 5-plus innings. 

Cooper Dawson pitched 2/3 of an inning in relief and allowed three runs, three hits, and walked one. Nathan Downs replaced the sophomore and tossed 1/3 inning and allowed four run, no hits, and walked four.

Wyatt Humphrey pitched 2/3 of an inning and allowed five runs, three hits, walked two, and plunked two to finish the seventh. 

For St. X, the undefeated season dreams continue for another day.

“If there is any pressure, we want it,” Porta said. “We’re trying to put as much pressure on those guys as we can. They have handled it quite well. We blew a couple of leads tonight, but we want that pressure right now to get ready for the postseason.”


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