Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2011



LAPLACE — For a little while, it was the type of game feared by any favored team, a contest knotted up as the underdog gained confidence and energy with each passing inning. It was, in fact, the case for four innings in the Class 2A bi-district playoff matchup between third seeded St. Charles and No. 30 St. Thomas Aquinas.

But in the fifth and sixth innings, everything reverted to form.

“Pow! Pow! Pow! POW!”

The Comet bats came alive and then some as batter after batter slammed balls into the outfield. St. Charles collected eight hits and nine runs over the two frames to cement an 11-2 victory at Comet Field and advance to the bi-district round.

St. Charles coach Paul Waguespack said that the early struggle with STA didn’t completely take him off guard.

“We 10-run ruled them earlier in the season, but I knew that wasn’t the same team,” said Waguespack. “I felt that and I told (assistant coach)Wayne (Stein) that. That’s why we threw our one, why we threw Jared. They’re a good baseball team and we have a lot of respect for them.

“But I always felt like we’d come through. I felt like we’d be okay.”

St. Charles (23-11) will face No. 14 John Curtis (15-14) in the regional round. The Patriots rallied to defeat Mangham, 5-4, on a walkoff home run in the seventh inning. The District 9-2A competitors faced one another three times during the regular season, with Curtis winning the series 2-1.

The Comets led 2-1 after the first inning, that score holding until the fifth. The Falcons (11-14) tied the game on an error after Ross Pellichino’s single up the middle; a mishandled throw allowed Frank Perrilloux, who walked, to score and tie the game. It was the second error of the inning for the Comets.

Jared Keating (8-2) stopped any further bleeding by striking out three-hole hitter Lane Kropog and walked off the mound charged up, imploring his teammates to answer.

The Comets listened to their senior pitcher. Brady Hitt singled to lead off the bottom half, then advanced to second base on an error. Shane McNeil bunted him over to third, and Chad McNeil singled to center to plate Hitt and put SCC ahead 3-2.

Then Brandon Zimmer created some breathing room for the Comets, socking his own single to the gap to bring home two RBIs and make it 5-2.

“It was a 1-2 count, and I knew he was coming with something offspeed,” said Zimmer. “He came with the fastball before. So I thought about what was coming and I just hit it.”

Said Waguespack: “I thought Brady got us rolling with his base hit, then Brandon Zimmer comes up with a clutch hit. And we got on a roll.”

The Falcons went scoreless in the sixth despite a Cameron Loria double, then the Comets went back to work. Keating doubled, and with two outs Shane McNeil blasted a home run to make it 7-2.

Macky Cortez followed with a double to the wall, then Chad McNeil reached on an error, allowing Cortez to score. Zimmer and Austin Ourso walked to load the bases, bringing up Jeffrey Hall.

Hall launched a ball into the outfield and raced around for a triple, clearing the bases and making it 11-2.

“Their pitching got a little tired and we eventually caught up to them,” said Zimmer. “Once our lineup gets into a rhythm, it’s hard to stop us.”

Keating struck out two of the four batters he faced in the seventh to officially send SCC to the next round.

He finished allowing one earned run on six hits. He struck out nine batters.

SCC took a 2-1 lead in the first inning when Cortez singled home two runners.

Waguespack said that the game against Curtis would “probably” be scheduled to be played Tuesday at St. Charles.