If Saturday afternoon’s Bruce-Mahoney Game is any indication, the future of the St. Ignatius baseball program is in great hands.
A senior-heavy lineup rallied for four runs in the top of the second inning, and a sophomore and freshman combined to record the final 11 outs as the Wildcats beat Sacred Heart Cathedral 6-1 at Oracle Park to clinch the best-of-five Bruce-Mahoney Series and retain the multi-sport trophy.
Malcom Felix raced home on a safety squeeze to kickstart the four-run rally, sophomore Beau Schaffer escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning and freshman Archer Horn, who already verbally committed to Stanford, closed the game out with a three-inning save, allowing multiple baserunners in each frame but limiting the Fightin’ Irish to just one run.
“It’s a great learning experience for those guys,” head coach Brian Pollzzie said. “They just build on it.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral (2-7, 0-4 West Catholic Athletic League) got on the board when Tate Medicoff came home on Aaron Louis’ groundout, and Pollzzie had to come out to the mound to calm Horn, who was frustrated by a tight strike zone, but settled down to finish the inning with back-to-back called third strikes.
“The ump, who I’ve known forever, thought (Archer) was questioning the strike zone when he threw his palms up,” Pollzzie said. “He’s a really talented kid, and he’s 14-15 years old, so he’s still learning how to control his emotions.”
Horn found himself in more trouble in the sixth after SHC loaded the bases for the heart of the order, but he wiggled out of it with a strikeout, foul popout and liner hit straight at left fielder Dom Camarillo.
For his final act, Horn allowed a pair of one-out singles, but finished the game with a strikeout and popout. The final out, fittingly, landed in the glove of Niko Gomozias, who started the game on the mound and drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk.
“That’s like a championship game 10 games into the season. I started getting emails and texts about this game in August,” Pollzzie said of the grand stage. “We feel like we can really start our season now.”
The trophy will remain in the Sunset District, as it has since the 2018-19 school year. The series was left unfinished in the 2019-20 year, and SI has won each of the last three years. The Wildcats also won volleyball and boys basketball, while Sacred Heart Cathedral won football and girls basketball.
St. Ignatius (9-2, 3-1) loaded the bases just three batters into the game and struck twice in the top of the first on Evann Smith’s RBI grounder and Rocco Giometti’s sac fly. Felix sparked the four-run second with a walk, then advanced to third on a Jackson Short double off the right field brick wall and scored on a safety squeeze.
“It’s just natural reaction,” Felix said. “I gotta get home somehow.”
Patrick Ruane dropped a bunt in front of the plate, and when SHC catcher Nathan Vines threw to first, Felix raced home. To make matters worse for the Irish, the first baseman never stepped on the bag.
“There were a couple plays that the kids feel like they could have made, and SI did a good job of taking advantage,” SHC head coach Brian Morgan said.
Gomozias followed with a four-pitch walk to make it 4-0, Smith singled through the hole to bring in a fifth run and Giometti beat out a potential inning-ending double play to bring home a sixth.
Wyatt Ricci, who recorded the final two outs of the second inning for the Fightin’ Irish, kept SI at bay over the next four innings. He allowed just one hit over 4 1/3 shutout frames.
“Had we made any comeback at all, Wyatt would have been the hero,” Morgan said of Ricci, who then gave way to Dylan Adelman for SHC's last four outs.
SHC loaded the bases with one out in the second after Vines walked, but Gomozias induced a strikeout and groundout to end the threat. The Fightin’ Irish left 14 runners on base over the course of the game.
“They kept putting runners on and hit a couple balls right at guys,” Morgan commented.
Both teams will have minimal time to bask in the magnitude of Saturday’s game, with three-game weeks looming. SHC visits Bellarmine and St. Francis before hosting Riordan on Friday at Marchbank Field, while SI hosts Mitty at Fairmont Field on Tuesday before visiting St. Francis and Bellarmine.
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