Senior pitcher Niko Sanchez threw a complete game with five strikeouts and freshman Dan Searles drew a bases loaded walk to guide the Avalon Black Knights to a first round 1-0 win over host St. Alban’s in the first round of the 3rd Annual Bill Bowman Tournament.
“I felt really good today,” said Sanchez. “I felt like I had my stuff, and I recognized over the game that they were chasing pitches low, so that helped me today.”
Sanchez (5-1) threw 97 pitches and struck out five batters in his complete game performance, only surrendering a few singles on his way to winning his fifth game of the year. He lowered his ERA to 2.00, and now has 46 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched.
Junior shortstop Billy Lennox led the way on defense, making multiple game-changing plays. His fake throw to first base in the second inning on a Will Carome ground ball caught runner Mike McCurdy between third base and home. The Black Knights completed the run down to escape from the inning.
Later in the fifth inning, St. Albans had a runner on third when Lennox made an excellent diving play to take a hit away from Nico Boyajian to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, senior Ian Foland reached base on an error, and catcher Tommy Sanchez followed with a laser to left field for a hit. With two outs, sophomore Mark Searles walked to load the bases.
Dan Searles came to the plate and quickly fell behind in the count 0-2. He took ball one, and then fouled a pitch back before watching three more pitches outside of the strike zone. The walk scored Foland, for the game’s only run.
“It was a great win for our team… We really wanted this,” said Sanchez.
In the championship game vs. Loyola Blakefield however, Avalon struggled at the plate and could only muster a total of three hits in a 6-0 loss.
Loyola pitcher Eric McDonough forced the Black Knights to hit liners to infielders again and again, and the ball rarely got past the infield. Foland took the loss for Avalon with three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Loyola Don’s accumulated 9 hits for the game.
Avalon next plays Wednesday in a league game against The Heights at 6:30 p.m. at Kelley Park. The Black Knights will honor their seniors in a ceremony before the game.