Neither Bellarmine Prep nor Auburn Riverside could capitalize on their several scoring chances throughout most of their district playoff matchup. But the Ravens finally struck when they needed to, as Justin Jacobs drilled a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Auburn Riverside a 1-0 win on May 7 at Russell Road Park to end the Lions’ season.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Jacobs drilled a 1-0 pitch deep into the right field corner to plate pinch runner Aaron Nguyen from second base. The late dramatics spoiled a solid effort for Bellarmine starter Harry Stenberg, who went the distance and escaped several threats along the way. The junior allowed the lone run on six hits, with five walks and seven strikeouts in throwing 113 pitches.
“He pitched his butt off,” said Bellarmine head coach Rick Barnhart.
The Lions threatened to break through in the first two innings, as Brandon Thompson walked with two outs in the first, George Foley singled and the duo advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. But Ravens starter Noah Freelund retired Michael Ota on a grounder to escape unharmed. Andrew Patubo led off the second with a walk and John Bjork reached on an error a batter later with just one out, but Freelund again escaped by striking out Paul Huiras and getting Nathan Heath to ground out.
“The bottom line is, we had a couple chances early, guys in scoring position, and didn’t get that big hit,” Barnhart said. “Sooner or later you’ve got to step up and get the big hit, or you don’t score.”
But Stenberg was equal to the challenge on the mound, as he faced a second-and-third threat with just one out in the bottom of the third. He struck out the Ravens’ Austin Marty – who came into the game batting .500 with six homers and 26 RBIs – for the second time in the game, and Ota came up with a brilliant diving catch on Kevin Thomson’s foul pop-up to end the inning. Daniel Casanova reached third with one out in the fourth, but Stenberg struck out Gavin Hettinger and Michael Robinson to again keep the game scoreless.
The Lions threatened again in the top of the seventh, as Patubo walked and advanced to second when Matthew Jacobsen was hit by a pitch with two outs. But reliever Brady Cummings got Heath to ground out to first, allowing for the heroics in the bottom half.
By Jeremy Helling