Rams roll into postseason with 8 straight wins

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013



EDGARD – In order to reach the postseason, West St. John needed its pitching and defense to take things to another level.

After eight consecutive victories, its clear that the Rams were up to the task. West St. John wrapped up its regular season Monday at rival St. James, defeating the Wildcats 4-1 to all but cement a West St. John postseason berth.

The Rams were unofficially ranked 21st in the Class 1A power point rankings, well in the postseason field.

It’s the third consecutive season that the Rams have made the postseason, and earning a 21 seed would represent the program’s upward trend, after earning a 30 seed two seasons ago and a 23 seed last year.

“I just take my hat off to the kids,” said West St. John coach Juan Joseph. “We knew that if this team started making the routine plays and cutting down on the walks, we could win some games.

“We still need to cut down on some of the defensive mistakes, but we’ve improved there and our pitchers aren’t handing out free passes.”

Rashad Smith pitched six innings of three hit ball to earn the win and Austin Howard picked up the save in relief. Smith struck out four while walking five, allowing just one earned run.

The Wildcats led 1-0 entering the sixth inning. Anfernee Lumar tied the game for West St. John after doubling and then scoring on a wild pitch. Austin Howard collected an RBI on a single to right to make it 2-1. Then Dontre Turner broke things open, netting the Rams two insurance runs and making it 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth.

Those three hits were the Rams lone three hits of the game – but they came at the right time.

“We’ve been starting to hit a little better,” said Joseph. “We’ve got to stay aggressive and put the ball in play. We have to put pressure on the other team.”

West St. John’s pitching put together its best regular season in years, with Howard, Smith and Dontre Turner fueling the team’s winning streak on the mound. Over the team’s last five games, the Rams have allowed just eight runs.

Joseph also credited the team’s defensive improvement. Timothy Nelson has been a standout in centerfield, he said, while Quantae Gaudia has been making a strong effort at second base.

If the Rams can win a first round playoff game on the road, it would likely host a postseason game in round two.

“That’s our goal,” said Joseph.

“We want to host a postseason game. It hasn’t been done here in a long time.”

WEST ST. JOHN BESTS WHITE CASTLE TWICE – The Rams earned wins six and seven of their winning streak Saturday with two dominant wins over White Castle, one by a score of 12-2 and the other by a score of 14-0.

Austin Howard tossed a two-hitter in the Rams 12-2 victory, striking out 10 while walking just two.

At the plate, Howard went 2 for 3. DeJohn Taylor also collected two hits.

Dontre Turner went the complete five inning game in WSJ’s 14-0 win. He tossed a two-hit shutout, striking out nine and walking two.

Turner also brought a big bat, slamming a three-run home run in the win.

Keith Miller hit a three-run double. Lavonta Augusta collected two hits and two RBIs and Taylor doubled and collected two RBIs.

WEST ST. JOHN 5, TARA 4 – The Rams went on the road to Tara and captured a 5-4 victory on the back of home runs by Austin Howard and DeJohn Taylor.

Howard hit a home run and a double while collecting two RBIs. Taylor’s home run was a solo shot. Dontre Turner collected two RBIs.

Rashad Smith went the complete game on the mound to earn the victory.