Moll, Howard lead Rams past White Castle

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 10, 2011



EDGARD – White Castle has had West St. John’s number in recent games, be it football, basketball, or baseball.

But on Thursday, the Rams were determined to turn the tables on the Bulldogs. That determination went a long way.

White Castle rallied to tie after being down 7-2, but Dontre Turner knocked in Jarius Moll in the seventh inning to plate the deciding run in an 8-7 District 8-1A victory for the Rams.

“It keeps us in contention,” said West St. John coach Lennix Madere, whose team now sits tied for third in district with White Castle. “My hat’s off to our kids. They fought hard all day. The last few weeks, it’s been like that, like we’ve turned a corner. I’m proud of them.”

Jarius Moll earned the win on a day in which he struck out nine batters and allowed just one earned run over six innings. Austin Howard took the ball in the seventh and slammed the door – after Moll walked the leadoff batter, Howard struck out the next three Bulldog hitters to earn the save.

“I just focused on ball and glove,” said Howard, who caught for the first six innings. “Me and Moll had been communicating all day, so I learned things about them from him.

“They’ve been beating us in every sport. But today, we got the upset.”

Said Madere, “It was an outstanding pitching performance. Jarius asked for the ball today. He wanted it and we gave it to him. He really responded … Howard slammed the door shut. You can’t do any better than what he did in that inning. That’s what a closer does.”

A pair of Ram errors gave White Castle (9-7, 4-3) new life in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Moll recorded two strikeouts to begin the inning, but a dropped flyball on a ball hit by Tyree Bracken kept the inning alive. Issac O’Bear walked and Jarrad Jenkins ripped a single down the right field line to bring both around and make it 7-4.

It was the same script in the fifth. Moll got Vance Williams and Dedric Gore to groundout and fly out respectively, but a Rams’ error gave White Castle an opportunity to load the bases. O’Bear hit a rocket to the gap in center and right field and cleared the bases to tie things up.

Moll singled to left in the bottom of the sixth with one out, then began to make things happen. He stole second, then stole third to set up Turner. Turner grounded out to first base and Moll raced home to put West St. John (11-6, 4-3) ahead.

“When I get on base, everyone’s looking for me to score. I knew I had to,” said Moll. “I saw an opening and decided to steal third to get us into position to score.”

Said Madere, “We give Jarius the green light to steal. He’s such a good baserunner … He saw the third baseman playing way back and he knew he could take it.”

The Rams trailed 1-0 in the third inning, but WSJ took advantage of a few White Castle mistakes as their bats came alive.

Tim Nelson reached to lead off the inning on a mishandled bunt, then Moll singled. Turner reached on an error to load the bases with no outs.

That brought up Barry Hanson to the plate, who bounced a single to right field to plate two and give WSJ the lead. Renaldo Trench singled, then Howard delivered another two-RBI single to make it 4-1. Steven Brignac concluded the scoring surge with his own two-RBI single, laced into center, to make it 6-1.

Each team scored a run in the fourth, the latter coming on Trench’s sacrifice fly that scored Turner.

The Rams now turn to their key clash with district leader Ascension Catholic today at West St. John. First pitch is for 2 p.m.

“If we can play like we did Tuesday, even in a loss to St. John (5-0) … play defense, and add a little hitting, then we’ll be in it. We aren’t afraid. We’re going in expecting to win.”