To keep his players sharp, St. John's baseball coach Ed Gibbs kept them for a practice two hours after a game against Carroll on Monday. The No. 10 Cadets responded yesterday with a focused and error-free game, beating No. 7 O'Connell, 9-0, in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game in Arlington.
"We're a little tired, but once the game gets near that goes away," said senior first baseman Matthew Peterson, who was 2 for 2 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI. "Recently we've been in a zone. We were ready for this week."
The Cadets (10-2, 4-1) have won five in a row, including the first three in a stretch of five games in eight days. On Thursday, St. John's will play top-ranked DeMatha. O'Connell (9-2, 4-2) lost its second straight after opening with nine straight wins.
Yesterday, a good hitting performance aided junior right-hander Keith Moreland in his five-hit complete-game shutout. Moreland fanned nine Knights and allowed no fly balls. Only two runners reached third base.
"I wasn't having too much success with my fastball, but my off-speed stuff was working," Moreland said. "I was able to keep the ball down and my defense helped me a lot."
Ruesch Lifts O'Connell
A lot can be learned while keeping score from the dugout, which is from where O'Connell reserve Lydia Ruesch watches games while serving as the Knights' softball scorekeeper.
Summoned during clutch situations, such as last night in a scoreless game against Hylton, Ruesch has shown the knack to be savvy on the base paths.
And yesterday, she scored what proved to be the winning run in the Knights' 2-0 win in the championship game of the Lake Braddock Spring Break Invitational at Lake Braddock.
Ruesch, a senior who has just five at-bats, pinch-ran for Katie Yohe and scored from second base on a two-out infield blooper by Andie Alexander. On the play, second baseman Amanda D'Atillio stepped forward to field the short hit, but struggled to grab it after the spinning ball took an elusive bounce off the dirt. D'Atillio then threw to first base, but when the ball missed the glove of first baseman Kristin Nickloy, Ruesch scooted home.
"I was looking to use Lydia earlier in the game, but didn't," said O'Connell Coach Tom Orndorff, whose team improved to 11-0. "But then when it seemed we had a chance to win it late, I put her in. She's not the fastest girl on the team, but she is a smart runner who has great instincts. In fast-pitch softball, you never know how the ball is going to bounce."
Meantime, Knights senior Cara L'Etoile pitched her strongest game of the season, according to Orndorff, allowing just two hits and striking out 10. She struck out two in five of the innings and dropped the Bulldogs' record to 7-2.
"They seemed to like the high pitches and my fastball was working," said L'Etoile. "And Andie called a great game for me, helping me mix in my off-speed pitches."
Bulldogs pitcher Kelli Wilson allowed three hits and struck out seven.
"It felt like a playoff atmosphere at this tournament," said Orndorff.