A perfect night for baseball – or so it seemed – ended in jubilation and excitement for the Varsity baseball team. Friday, May 4, the Jesuit Rangers baseball team took on the Naaman Forest Rangers in Game 2 of their first-round series in the UIL 5A Playoffs. With the sky a beautiful orange and pink, blue and gold flags fluttering in the wind, and the crowd excited and hopeful for a great game, Jesuit’s ace pitcher Joe Powell ’12 took the mound.
After a close 3-2 win in Game 1 to take the series opener, the squad led by Coach Brian Jones anticipated a bigger game from the offense in the second meeting. The offense sure did answer indeed, run-ruling Naaman Forest in a game that lasted only 1 hour and 43 minutes.
First pitch was at 7:00, and Joe Powell got the Rangers through the top of the first inning fairly quickly. A fast 1-2-3 inning had the Rangers up to bat immediately.
The bottom of the first showed signs of the potent offense that was hiding inside the home team’s dugout. Lucas Valelly ’12 smacked an RBI triple into the outfield, drawing first blood in the ballgame.
In the top of the second, Naaman Forest garnered their first hit of the game, but the inning still ended quickly. With two outs, Powell pitched the ball and a Naaman Forest player sent it back to left field, but an impressive over-the-shoulder catch by Grant Hatzmann ’13 ended the inning.
Jesuit’s offensive attack began to come to life in the second inning. Chris Cisneros ’12 was the leadoff batter, singling to center field. With a man on, Naaman Forest walked Connor Glogowski ’12. Next, Will Hairston ’13 came up to bat intending to sacrifice bunt the pinch-runner Hayden Williams ’12 to third base and Glogowski to second, but instead reached first on a wild throw by a Naaman Forest infielder.
Williams reached home as a result of the poor throw. Next in the lineup was Hank Tobolka ’12 who doubled deep to left, bringing in one more run. With the count 0-2, Hatzmann singled and brought Tobolka home. However, the next batter flied out, and then Joe Powell was intentionally walked. Valelly was back up to bat, but during his at-bat signaled that he was leaving the batter’s box. Despite this signal to the umpire, the Naaman Forest pitcher still rocketed a fastball to his catcher, nearly hitting Valelly in the leg. This stunt brought uproar from a restless Jesuit dugout, calling for the umpire to take action. On the next pitch, Valelly grounded out, ending the inning. After two innings, Jesuit led 4-0.
To start off the bottom of the third inning, Ben Wright ’12 came up to bat, but grounded out. Catcher Cisneros approached home next, and he was called safe at first after an extremely close call. In the middle of the next at-bat by Glogowski, Cisneros took off to second, but was tagged out, and Connor lined out to end the third.
Lightning began to strike in the fourth inning, but it seemed like the umpires never noticed it. Another 1-2-3 inning for Powell had Jesuit right back up to bat.
The Rangers released all of their power in the fourth, garnering a 10-run inning. Hairston reached first safely after a terrible throw over Naaman Forest’s first baseman. Subsequently, Hank Tobolka hit a huge triple to center, adding one run to the Jesuit lead. Naaman Forest’s Coach John Herrick angrily called for a pitching change.
Once the new pitcher warmed up, Jesuit got right back to business. Hatzmann walked and Shea Stine ’13 hit an RBI single to left field. During Powell’s at-bat, Hatzmann stole third and Shea tried to steal second, but turned around, ultimately being tagged out after sliding in to first. Luke Valelly continued his monster night with another RBI, and Wright reached base on a single. Cisneros was also walked, filling the bases completely. With rain beginning to fall, Glogowski bombed an absolutely beautiful ball to the outfield, driving in three more Jesuit runs.
Hairston reached first again after the Naaman Forest catcher fumbled a ‘strike-three’ call. The offense continued to be unrelenting as Tobolka batted Glogowski in and Hatzmann made it 13-0 Jesuit after a double of his own. Shea Stine came back up to bat and hit a playable ball nicely into right field, and after the Naaman Forest second-baseman bobbled it, Stine was able to get to first base and Hatzmann found home plate again. A 10-run inning for Jesuit ended after Valelly grounded out.
Leading 14-0, the Rangers needed just three outs with no runs by Naaman Forest in order to end the game early on Mercy Rule. Conveniently, this coincided with an approaching spring thunderstorm, which the umpires chose to ignore in order to end the game so it wouldn’t have to be restarted. The first Naaman Forest batter flied out and the second sent a scary foul-ball into the crowd, while managing to get Naaman Forest’s second hit of the evening in the same at-bat.
Grant Hatzmann caught the next fly ball in center field, and the Rangers needed one more out to win. The next Naaman Forest batter kept fighting despite all the nerves and anxiety inside of him. First, he sent a foul ball right in to the Jesuit dugout, but Powell still was able to register the K, his sixth and final of the night.
Jesuit was able to sweep Naaman Forest in two games due to a balanced effort by offense and defense. The series surely was a tribute to their ability and talent and showed they have the potential to go far in the playoffs.
Pitcher Al “Baseball” Higgins ’13, as he is known by his close-friends, remarked that “the offense just looked unstoppable out there tonight. When we’re hot, we can be unstoppable out on the diamond.”
Higgins added that “[A&M] Consolidated is a good team, but we have no doubts in our minds that we can win this series.” Feeling confident and excited following the huge win, Higgins declared, “We can go as far as we feel like – win state if we feel like it. [And] without a doubt, we feel like it.”
The Rangers continue their quest for their first UIL State Baseball Championship next week. Show your support and follow @Jesuit Roundup on Twitter in order to stay posted on the scores of their games.