Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 1998

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / March 25, 1998

METAIRIE – St. Charles Catholic’s bats came out smoking in the earlyinnings Monday afternoon and the Comets’ pitching and defense took over late for a 8-3 victory over St. Martin’s in the District 9-2A opener forboth teams at Zephyr Field.

St. Charles Catholic improved to 9-5 overall while St. Martin’s fell to 6-3.The Comets staked starter Brandon Laiche to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Ty Monica got things started by beating out a bunt to third base andwent to second as Wayne Stein lined a single to left. John Price thenlaunched a 1-2 pitch off the left field wall for a triple, bringing in Monica and Stein. One out later, Price came in to score a Jason Gonzales groundedout to second.

The Comets tacked on a run in the top of the second after Steven Faucheux led off with a walk. Jon Clement then took St. Martin’s starter NickPappas’ first pitch and lined a shot into the left-center field gap for a triple, scoring Clement to make it 4-0.

St. Charles Catholic broke open the game with four runs in the top of thethird. Gonzales and Brian Horvath led off with walks. As Courtney Bonurawas drawing the third consecutive walk from Pappas, Gonzales advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored as Pappas bounced his pickoff throw in the dirt at first.

Nick Hintz came in to relieve Pappas and gave up a run-scoring single to Faucheux with Horvath beating the throw to the plate from left fielder Chad Gaudin. Clement followed with a single to center, scoring Bonura tomake it 8-0.

Laiche cruised through the first three innings, hitting Jeb Bauer in the second for the Saints’ only baserunner. Pappas broke up the no-hit attemptwith a double into the left field gap with one out in the fourth but Laiche retired the next two batters to strand him at third.

Hintz also settled down after Clement’s hit, allowing only a walk to Monica and singles by Gonzales, Faucheux and Bonura over the last four innings.

St. Martin’s finally reached Laiche in the bottom of the sixth after Gaudinled off with a single to right. Peter Castains followed with a triple overMonica’s head in left, scoring Gaudin with the Saints’ first run of the game.

After a walk by Will Rolston, Castains scored as Pappas grounded out to first. Singles by Jeff Strahn and Bauer brought Rolston home to make it 8-3. Laiche followed with a walk to Hintz and was relieved on the mound byBonura.

Bonura did his job, striking out Andrew Stakelum and getting David Peterson to ground out to third to end the inning. In the seventh, Bonuraissued a two-out walk to Rolston before getting Pappas to pop up to Nick Monica in short right field to end the game.

“We came out early and did a good job with the bat,” St. Charles Catholiccoach Frank Monica said. “We had a chance to score more runs but wedidn’t get the timely hit when we needed it. Our pitching and defense waspretty solid and that was the difference in the ballgame. Sometimes whenthe hitting stays home, in order to win pitching and defense is the key.

Laiche allowed three runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two in improving to 4-1 on the season. Clement, Gonzales, Horvathand Faucheux each had two hits for the Comets while Price added three runs batted in.

St. Charles Catholic hosts two local rivals in upcoming district play,Riverside on Thursday and West St. John Tuesday.”I am happy to start district 1-0,” Monica said. “But we have nine left andeach is a bigger step.”

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