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Strong pitching and small ball gets JPII past BGA

Pope John Paul pitcher Ryan Robertson shut down the bats of the Battle Ground Academy Wildcats Friday night on the way to a 7-1 Knights’ win.

Robertson pitched six shutout innings before giving up BGA’s only run in the seventh inning after fatigue set in. Robertson finished with five strikeouts and allowed seven BGA base runners.

“(The off-speed pitch) is his game,” JPII head coach Michael Brown said. “He’s a ‘cunny-thumber’. He’s not going to throw it very hard, but everything moves around and he keeps it away. His command is great. He got tired and walked a couple guys in the last inning, but it was a pretty good outing against a pretty good hitting team.”

The offensive side of the game for the Knights was led by leadoff, center fielder Brad Jarreau. Jarreau reached base on all four of his at bats, scoring three runs to go along with his two stolen bases.

“Brad is one of the best players in the league,” Brown said. “He’s going to hit (the ball). He’s going to steal bases and he’s a good bunter. He’s a Division I player and he just did what he always does.”

Bunting had a large part to do with the Knights’ victory. Heading into the fifth inning, they had a 1-0 lead despite being hitless since the first inning. Catcher Brady Day led off with a single then Jarreau laid down a bunt and beat out the throw at first base on a close call. Right fielder, Logan Taylor scored off of a wild pitch from BGA pitcher Mac Crawford to complete the three-run fifth inning for the Knights.

Crawford was doing such a good job against the JPII lineup that Brown had to mix up his team’s game plan.

“We weren’t hitting the ball and we decided to put some balls down,” Brown said. “There were a couple of bang-bang calls and then we were able to get it going with a couple bunts then a couple hits. Crawford was getting us out, so we had to do something to try and put pressure on their defense.”

Playing small ball seemed to work. Laying down three bunts put Knight base runners in scoring position and batters were able to stay on base, but that wasn’t the initial plan.

“On the second (bunt) we weren’t bunting for a hit we were just moving the runners,” Brown said. “And the third one we were moving the runners. But bunting is a big part of what we do. We work on it all the time.”

The Wildcats struggled to get anything going on offense. Catcher Nick Egli went 2-3 and scored the lone BGA run. Egli was robbed on a diving catch by Logan Taylor in the first inning deep in right-center field that would have scored a run.

The two teams rematch in Hendersonville Saturday night.

Posted on: 4/5/2013


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