The St. Mary’s Knights put on a batting clinic during Tuesday’s 8-1 win against the Tempe Buffaloes.
The Knights got off to a slow start in the first inning, as the Buffaloes’ first two batters got on base due to an error and a walk. The Knights responded with an out off a pop-fly and a double play to end the inning.
“I just [need to] stop aiming and thinking too much,” St. Mary’s sophomore pitcher Jaxon Rideau said, “I [need to] stop worrying about the runners and worry about the batters.”
From then on, Rideau dominated on the mound. He went on to throw eight strikeouts while allowing only five hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Head coach Joseph Ponce was very pleased with his pitcher’s performance.
“I think Rideau mixes it up a lot,” Ponce said. “He’s got a good amount of off-speed pitches, he works quick, his fastball is deceptive, he’s obviously not a big guy but he’s powerful and he’s strong.”
Rideau attributed his success on the mound on Tuesday to his coach.
“I just hit my spots, throw strikes,” Rideau said. “I [need to] do the signs that are given from coach, and I know he knows what he’s doing.”
It was not only pitching where the Knights found success today, the team cranked the bats as it scored eight runs, including a crazy four-run fourth inning. It was a single on a Buffalo center fielder error when freshman left fielder Alonso Contreras started the scoring spree, bringing in two runs on the RBI single. Contreras finished the night with four RBIs, as he followed with an in-the-park two-run home run in the sixth inning.
“If someone gets an extra base hit, I think it motivates the whole team to try to do the same thing,” Contreras said.
His teammates did just that, as they scored two more runs on consecutive singles before ending the inning on a strikeout with the bases loaded. Despite scoring eight runs, the Knights left a lot of runners on bases in a game that they could have easily scored double-digit runs.
“I think it’s all about execution,” Ponce said. “We had a lot of runners left on base this year. I think certain kids try to do too much with bases loaded and all they really need to do is try to get the ball through the gap and try [to] score one run.”
Aside from some missed opportunities, Ponce was pleased with the way his team played. Limiting errors has been a focal point for the Knights all season, and they only made one error on the day.
“I think the defense was much better, we didn’t make the mistakes we made earlier in the season,” Ponce said. “I think we just played well in all facets of the game, obviously an 8-1 victory against a scrappy team like Tempe feels good.”