Wildcats survive two-homer game by Brown, tie St. Aug in opener
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
The biggest curveball thrown in Monday’s summer baseball opener at East St. John might just have come from former Wildcats’ outfielder Corwin Brown.
Brown has spent the last few years driving in runs for the Wildcats. But on Monday, the ESJ graduate was in the visitors dugout, in St. Augustine colors, having elected to play American Legion ball with the Purple Knights.
He made quite a splash upon his return.
His two home runs helped to lift the Knights to a 11-8 lead over ESJ-based Wildcat Baseball entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
But the Wildcats rallied to tie the game, and the clash ended in a 11-11 tie.
Sims said that, although it was strange to see Brown wearing the colors of another team, he couldn’t help but smile to see his former player succeed once more.
“There was nothing but a smile on my face to see him again,” said Sims. “I know he’ll always be a Wildcat, though and through. He even helped us set up the field before the game.”
While Wildcat Baseball doesn’t play an official American Legion schedule, St. Augustine does and will play a full slate of games. Brown will earn more at-bats with the Knights this summer – hence the switch.
“He wanted to get some more at bats, as many as he could this summer,” said Sims of Brown, who has signed with Prairie View. “I know it’s been an honor for me to be able to coach him. He happened to light us up today, but that’s just what he does.”
St. Augustine led 6-3 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, and Sims didn’t like what he saw.
“I had to call them together, light a fire under them,” he said. “We were out there like we weren’t excited to be playing baseball. I told them that they’ve gotta put it all out there.”
The speech worked. Wildcat Baseball (0-0-1) quickly bounced back to take the lead with a five-run inning.
Andre Simmons and Jarvis Johnson each drew walks to lead off the inning. Reynaldo Young’s RBI single made it 6-4. Torri Zeno walked to load the bases, and I’Keem Brown’s sacrifice fly made it 6-5, and Justin Howard hit a grounder to short to bring home the game-tying run.
Zeno scored on a wild pitch, and Donald Goff scored on an error to make it 8-6.
Brown’s second home run of the game led off the fifth, and quickly cut the lead in half. Jared Monconduit would match the feat, slamming a home run later in the inning to tie it at 8-8.
In the sixth, Monconduit hit a ball to short that squirted through on an error, scoring two runs. St. Augustine would score one more in the inning on a double steal to make it 11-8.
But back-to-back walks by Johnson and Young with one out in the seventh set the table for the Wildcat comeback. Zeno reached on an infield hit to load the bases, and Brown was hit by a pitch to bring home a run.
Howard hit a grounder and reached on an error at first, bringing home the two runs and tying it up at 11.
But Goff struck out for the second out, and Josh Brown was robbed of a hit on a line drive smash when Knights’ centerfielder Lee Doss made a spectacular diving catch, ending the game.
“He made a great play. But we put ourselves in a bad position, striking out on the batter before,” said Sims. “We have to put the ball in play. Then anything can happen.”
Wildcat centerfielder Reynaldo Young said that the team must improve in some key areas to get into the win column.
“The hitting is going to be there,” he said. “But we’ve got to improve defensively. And we’ve got to hit better when guys are in scoring position.”