Brandon Blaser went to the plate in the second inning simply trying to hit the ball to the right side of the field. When his shot rolled all the way to the fence, he came home with what turned out to be the winning run.
The St. Xavier High School senior third baseman knocked a two-run triple that tied the score at 2 and headed on home after an error to give the host Tigers the lead in their 3-2 victory over Male on Tuesday in the 26th District Tournament championship game.
“I think he was a little surprised coming around third that I was going to send him, but he had all of his momentum going,” St. X coach Andy Porta said. “He never let up from first to second or second to third.”
Pitchers Adam Elliott and Cam Revelette made the lead hold over the final five innings as St. X – ranked No. 3 in the state – improved to 27-9. Both the Tigers and No. 19 Male (23-13) already had clinched spots in next week’s Seventh Region Tournament.
St. X, the defending state champion, has won four straight regional titles.
“It’s fun because it makes us practice harder to get the fifth one,” Blaser said. “The draw doesn’t matter. We’re still going to take every team like it’s the championship.”
Male outhit St. X 6-3, with senior third baseman Drew Carlton going 3 for 3 with a double. But the Bulldogs hit into a pair of double plays and stranded three runners in scoring position, falling to the Tigers for the second time this season (2-1 on May 1).
Senior pitcher T.J. Satterly struck out five but dropped to 8-4.
“T.J. threw well and battled,” Male coach Jeff Garrity said. “He just had one bad sequence there. We have to get more than two runs.”
The Bulldogs got their runs in the second inning when Matt Janocik and Slate Robinson led off with back-to-back singles. Janocik later scored on a wild pitch, and Robinson came home after a perfect safety-squeeze bunt by Will Seewer.
But the Tigers answered in the bottom of the second. J.D. Mundt drew a leadoff walk, and Nick Nelson reached when Male center fielder Tyler Simpson dropped a fly ball.
After Avery Lane struck out, Blaser drove an 0-2 pitch into the right-center gap for what appeared destined to be a two-run triple. But when a Male outfielder bobbled the ball, Blaser was sent home.
“I saw a curveball right down the plate and tried to hit it to the right side,” Blaser said. “It ended up being in the gap. It was pretty nice. I was thinking triple, no doubt. My eyes started getting big when I saw Coach Porta sending me.”
Elliott (4-1), a junior lefty, struck out four in four innings to earn the win. Revelette struck out three and earned his first save in his first relief appearance of the season. With Robinson representing the potential tying run at second base, Revelette struck out Seewer to end the game.
“If you get to the semifinals or finals of the regional or deep into the state tournament, anybody has to be able to come out of the pen,” Porta said. “That was good to see from Cam.”
The draw for the Seventh Region Tournament is set for Saturday. St. X and Male both will play in quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Monday, with the Tigers hosting a game and the Bulldogs going on the road.
“I think it’s wide-open,” Porta said. “I don’t know that there’s a clear-cut favorite. I think you can make a case for probably five, six, maybe seven, maybe all eight of the teams.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
MALE 020 000 0 – 2 6 2
ST. XAVIER 030 000 x – 3 3 0
WP – Elliott (4-1). LP – Satterly (8-4). SV – C. Revelette (1). 3B – Blaser (SX). 2B – Carlton (M).