No. 18-seed Episcopal relied on big innings and clutch relief pitching as the Knights eliminated No. 15-seed Calvary Baptist, 10-5, in the Class 2A playoffs’ first-round Wednesday afternoon at Calvary Baseball Field.
“We’ve tried to set our pitching staff up where it benefits us, matchup-wise, depending on what each of them has on a given day,” said Episcopal head coach Dan Canevari, who pulled his starter, righthander Matthew Garrett, with two outs in the second inning in favor of lefty Jason Roussel. “They seemed to be picking up Matthew’s stuff pretty well early, so I felt it was time to make the switch, and Jason responded the way I hoped he would.”
Roussel came in with Calvary leading 3-2 and shortstop Kailen Glover, who had hit the first of his two doubles, on second base with two outs. He coaxed Nick Adcock into a fly out to center to end the inning, then held the Cavaliers (16-15) to just two runs over the next four innings.
The Knights offense, meanwhile, went on to put up four runs in the third, with DH Wayne Stabiler’s RBI double keying the rally.
“That was a big inning for our bats,” said Canevari, who’s team faces the Kinder/Oak Hill winner in the second round next week. “We got six hits in the inning and put real pressure on their offense to respond.”
Calvary looked to be up to the challenge, as first baseman Garrett Kochakian rifled a triple to deep left-center and scored on Nick Marino’s single with one out to cut the Episcopal lead to 6-4.
The Knights got that run back in the fourth on Matthew Clark’s sacrifice fly RBI, one of three runs the junior third baseman drove in.
The Cavs threatened in the bottom half after Logan Ray singled and Glover doubled with two outs, but Roussel wiggled out of the jam, getting Adcock to ground to short.
Calvary pulled within 7-5 in the fifth on Kochakian’s home run over the left-field scoreboard, but a pickoff and a strikeout kept the Knights (17-12) in front.
Episcopal put it away in the sixth with three runs, keyed by Turner Graham’s double to deep center and RBI singles from Clark and Matthew Distefano. Graham eventually took over on the mound and struck out the side in the seventh to end the game.
“The turning point of the game was before it started,” said Calvary head coach Todd Walker, who saw his second season at the helm come to an early end. “Episcopal is a better team than us this year. They did the things you have to do to win playoff games and we came up a little short.
“I’m proud of these kids, though,” continued Walker. “We’ve got a young team, with eight of our nine starters coming back next year. We’ll learn from this and be ready to get back where we believe we belong a year from now.”