It was a special night for the Sharks.
Not only did the St. James varsity baseball team honor former legends Gunnar Heidt and Tanner English by enshrining them on its Wall of Fame in a ceremony before the game, but it also beat Andrews 11-0 in a game that was called after five innings in its home opener at Shark Park on Wednesday, Mar. 11.
Senior pitcher Shawn Taylor led the way for the Sharks on the mound with four strikeouts and allowed no walks and six hits in a complete game shutout.
“I liked that Shawn came out and did what he needed to do to win the game for us; threw strikes and gave us a chance,” St. James head coach Robbie Centracchio said. “And then we got some key hits early on which we didn’t get this weekend in the (Coast Invitational) Tournament. So it was good the first couple innings to get a hit with runners in scoring position; it’s what we’ve really been missing. So it’s good, it’s always good to get the first win in the books, especially when we’ve got the crowd we had and the pregame ceremony we had honoring Gunnar and Tanner. I was really excited to see that crowd and get our first win.”
Second baseman Nate Haynes led the Sharks’ offensive attack with a single, a double, three runs batted in and two runs.
Andrews pitcher Ryan Angus got the start on the mound and recorded two strikeouts, and allowed three walks, five hits and five earned runs in an inning of work. In relief, Peyton Grant threw two strikeouts and gave up two walks, a hit and four runs, three of them earned, in one inning on the mound; Rodshaun Dorsey gave up a walk, a hit and four runs, two of them earned, in an inning of work; and Waylon Jones recorded a walk in one inning toeing the rubber.
“We’ve just got to learn how to compete,” Yellow Jackets head coach Richie Poston said. “We’ve got to learn how to compete no matter what the score is. Nameless, faceless opponent; we play against ourselves every night. That’s what we’re trying to instill here at Andrews High School. Just compete every pitch like it’s your last and play like it’s 0-0. They shouldn’t be able to come here and look at our face and look at our body language and tell what the score is; we should compete every pitch, every play for however long it takes.”
Andrews catcher Cole Martin led the Yellow Jackets offensively with two hits.
Poston is hoping this game was good experience for a team as young as his.
“I got one senior just trying baseball out,” he said. “I have some guys who played varsity last year. Not a whole lot of experience outside of a handful of guys so just really trying to feel everybody out and learn where they play. The rain and the weather messed us up a little bit for two weeks and we weren’t able to get on the field; weren’t able to have any scrimmages and played half of the preseason tournament so really this is our fifth time on the field together as a whole group. Just still trying to feel some young kids out and still trying to put the puzzle pieces in place, but the standard never changes. You got to play Andrews baseball; you got to play hard, fast, and compete for every pitch for however long it takes.”
St. James started off the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when senior first baseman Marshall Freeman plated junior right fielder Ethan Salak with a single followed by Haynes scoring Freeman with a single to make it 2-0 Sharks. Later in the inning, Haynes scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
In the second inning, St. James extended its lead when Grant walked senior catcher Nikko Andre with the bases loaded to score sophomore shortstop Alex Leo to make it 4-0 Sharks. Later in the inning, Grant hit both Haynes and senior center fielder Randy Smith with pitched back-to-back with the bases loaded to score junior left fielder Seth Spielman and Salak, respectively, to make it 6-0 St. James. Junior designated hitter Tyler Satterley tacked on another run in the inning by hitting a single to score sophomore pinch runner Blake Lauria to make it 7-0 St. James.
In the third inning, Haynes plated both Spielman and Salak with a double to make it 9-0. Later in the inning, Freeman scored on a passed ball and Haynes scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-0 Sharks.