Baseball: Hurley pitches win over Hawks

Behind the pitching of Connor Hurley and a five-run rally in the sixth inning, coach Jim Chaves’ St. Joseph baseball team defeated the Woodland Hawks by a score of 5-3 in the first round of Class M playoffs.

“It was a complete team effort,” Chaves said of the win. “We don’t have a team of superstars, we have a team of good ballplayers. We also have nine seniors who just want one more shot at nine innings — those guys talked to the team during the game when we were down, and whatever they did, it worked.”

Hurley threw five plus innings, allowing two unearned runs and seven hits while striking out four. Mike Rotundo wrapped up the game, yielding a lone run over two innings.

After two and a half scoreless innings, the Hawks got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third.

A dunk single and an error put two runners on base, both of whom advanced on a passed ball. Woodland’s first run scored on a dropped third strike that went to the backstop, and a would-be double play that scored a run when the first-base umpire ruled that the return throw was not in time.

St. Joseph’s defense gave Hurley some help here, as Woodland’s next batter knocked a 2-1 pitch to the left field wall but was held to a single with some quick fielding by Matt McKernan.

The Cadets showed off their gloves again in the bottom of the fourth with a nice catch by Matt Laveneziana in shallow right field for the first out.

Later in the inning, after a miscommunication on a bunt put runners on first and second, St. Joseph got out of the jam with a sliding stop and clean throw by second baseman Dave Capela to end the inning.

McKernan started off the fifth with a monster double to the left-field corner and advanced to third on a solid single by Capela, but the pair was left on the corners.

Hurley continued to hold the Hawks’ persistent offense, but the Cadets entered the sixth inning trailing by two.

After Laveneziana hit a high fly that twisted out of play at the foul pole, the senior worked a walk and stole second. Senior

Andrew Walsh singled him to third, putting runners on the corners with one for Tully Horne.

It was the senior’s moment to make a statement. Horne, the only St. Joseph player to have reached base in both of his previous at-bats, clocked a hard-hit double to center field, driving in Laveneziana and moving Walsh to third.

With the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, Woodland opted to make a pitching change.

Before the Hawks’ reliever could throw his first pitch, the home-plate umpire called a controversial balk that moved Horne to third and scored Walsh, tying the game at two. Woodland’s defense started to crumble.

Rush hit a grounder that the shortstop allowed past him, allowing Horne to score and put the Cadets ahead 3-2.

Rush stole second and McKernan followed up with a subsequent first-pitch grounder to short, which was again bobbled, putting runners on the corners.

A walk loaded the bases for Capela, who caught the Hawks’ defense off-guard with a nicely laid bunt to the left side of the infield.

The bunt scored Rush and kept the bases loaded for Neil Velasquez, who beat out the return throw of the double play attempt and scored McKernan in the process, taking the score to 5-2.

Rotundo took over for Hurley in the bottom of the frame and worked his way out of the jam.