St. Luke's held to one hit in lopsided loss to Hamden Hall
Bottom of the seventh. Two outs. Last licks for the Storm.
With melted snow dripping down his cheeks, St. Luke's tri-captain Jake Archey stepped to the plate, dug in, and belted a screamer down the third baseline for a double.
Unlike the 20 at-bats before him, Archey delivered something his team could not find all afternoon - a hit.
Handcuffed primarily by the left arm of Hamden Hall's starter Austin French, the Storm were abruptly shut out in their home opener, 8-0, in the wake of 10-run performance to begin the week.
But they did get that one hit.
"Yeah, right, so we don't have to have that conversation," St. Luke's manager Jonathan Lord barbed.
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French, a junior, lasted five cold innings, facing the minimum amount of batters before being relieved by teammate Vin Teixeira, who closed the game with a strikeout after the Storm's lone hit. Combined, the two struck out 11 of St. Luke's batters (French notched seven of them), while giving up only one walk in the bottom of the first to Garreth Fancher, who was evenually picked off at first.
"Obviously in these conditions to (nearly) pitch a no-hitter is tremendous," said Hamden Hall manager Joe Fontana, whose team finished undefeated in the FAA last season. "Austin really gave us a lift today being early in the season and in these conditions."
Low temperatures and precipitation falling somewhere in between snow, hail and rain culminated into a perfect storm for St. Luke's, fresh off an impressive 10-5 victory over Rye Country Day in Tuesday's season opener.
Lord, who returned 13 of his 18 roster spots this season, saw Thursday as nothing but a blip on the radar.
"They did a nice job," Lord said. "They threw a lot of strikes and got ahead of our hitters, and they kept us off-balance all day, which was good for them. For us, we could never quite change their pace. You want to try to break up a pitcher's routine -- we never quite could do that. Give credit to their pitchers."
Right-handed Fancher got the start for St. Luke's, holding his own for four innings with two strikeouts and no walks, including a 1-2-3 top of the third.
Down by two after two, the game slipped away from the Storm in the fourth, when they committed two errors that led to three runs and a 5-0 lead for the Hornets. Meanwhile, French cruised.
"We'll improve as hitters," Lord said. "We've hit the ball well all preseason, so I have no worries about us as far as how we're going to hit. We're going to hit the ball."
With an added year of experience and an inspiring offseason, Lord set higher expectations for his team that finished 4-10 in league play in 2010 but played well down the stretch.
"A lot of those kids were experiencing varsity-game action for the first time last year," said Lord, who took over the team in 2004. "So this year nothing should catch them by surprise. That experience is really, really going to help us as we get further into the season ... Kids felt good about this season heading in, and that hasn't changed."