Senior earns win in final ESJ start

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 26, 2013



KENNER – East St. John senior righthander Daniel Franklin was on short rest, his team shut out of the playoff picture. He didn’t care.

“He told me, ‘I want this. Coach, give me the ball.’ So I gave him the ball,” said East St. John baseball coach Shan Williams. “He’s earned it.”

In the Wildcats season finale and in his final game as a Wildcat, Franklin shined, tossing five innings of one run ball to earn the win in a 15-1 victory over Bonnabel.

Franklin allowed five hits and walked nobody en route to his ninth victory of the year. Franklin (9-3) struck out six as ESJ (14-14) won its third consecutive game to close the season at .500.

“I’m happy today, but at the same time it’s a little sad because I really liked playing with these guys,” said Franklin. “Our offense was great today. We couldn’t be better than that. We put it in play and it just fell for us.”

Franklin, a Southern signee, allowed a run in the first inning but allowed no more than one baserunner in the four innings after that.

“He pitched really well,” said Williams. “He gave up a few hits … Bonnabel has a couple of really good hitters. But it was a good performance to go out on.”

Bonnabel coach Rick Hudson concurred.

“Any time we got runners into scoring position, you could see it in his demeanor … he drew a line in the sand and said, ‘You’re not getting across,’” said Hudson. “The great ones can shut out everything around them and say, ‘I’ve got this.’ That’s what he did today.”

At the plate, Franklin finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs. Parrish Williams went 2 for 4 with an RBI, as did Darnell Lee.

Bonnabel’s Josh Hawkins went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. His lone out came at the hands of ESJ centerfielder Phil Adams, who robbed Hawkins on an impressive diving catch in the sixth inning.

East St. John scored in the top of the first inning when Daniel Franklin’s single to right was misplayed in the outfield, allowing Lee to score. Bonnabel (9-18) answered in their half of the first on Josh Hawkins’ RBI single – that scored Daniel Cruz, who doubled his way on.

That 1-1 score held as Franklin and Bonnabel starter Vinny Louoi combined to allow two hits over the next two innings.

But ESJ took complete command of the game in the fourth, the Wildcat bats finding hard contact and generating seven runs. Ahmani Martin led off with a double and Koi Taylor was hit by a pitch with one out. Parrish Williams singled home a run to break the tie, then Phil Adams and Lee each collected RBI singles to left and center respectively. Franklin singled to plate two runs and make it 6-1, and two more runs went on to score on an error.

“One person gets a hit, and that just pushes and motivates everyone else to do the same,” said Taylor, who finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs for East St. John.

Martin collected an RBI on a groundout and Taylor another on a double to make it 10-1 in the sixth.

In the seventh, back to back doubles by Lee and Franklin pushed another run across and ignited a five run final frame.

A Bruce Winn triple made it 12-1. Derrick Johnson, Taylor and Parrish Williams each collected RBI singles to round out the ESJ scoring.

Winn struck out the side in the seventh to close things out.

East St. John scored 52 runs over its final three games, two wins over Bonnabel and another over Higgins.

But it wasn’t enough to push ESJ into the postseason: the Wildcats finished 41st in Class 5A power ratings. The top 32 teams qualify.

“We ended on a good note, but I just feel like we could have done better,” said Taylor, one of six seniors on the team. “We wanted to get to the playoffs, but everything happens for a reason I guess.”

Said Shan Williams, “Off the top of my head, I can name all of the teams we lost to this season that we really should have beaten. Those would have put us right in.

“I wish we could have scooped some of that offensive production from the last three games and had it in some of the others we needed it in. But I’m very proud of the way our guys played on the way out. They played till the end.”