Franklinton comes up short in playoffs

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It was a tough day for Franklinton Saturday, as the Demons’ season came to an end with a pair of heartbreaking losses to St. Michael the Archangel after the Demons won the opening game of the series Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The third-seeded Demons won the series opener, 8-1, behind a solid pitching performance by Mack McElveen.

The Demons’ pitching was outstanding once again Saturday. Franklinton’s batters hit the ball hard, but many of them were right to the Warriors’ fielders, and the defense was solid. The Demons battled to the end but came up short, 4-2 and 2-1.

Franklinton scored the first five runs of Friday’s game. The Demons didn’t have a really big inning but they did a good job of continually adding runs to the lead.

In the first, Josh Magee walked, stole second, advanced to third on Morgan Angelo’s infield single to shortstop and scored on C.J. Estave’s RBI fielder’s choice. Angelo was forced at second on the play. Landon Magee recorded an RBI double down the left field line, sending courtesy runner Trevor Davis home, and the Demons were in front, 2-0.

Franklinton added two more in the second. Trevor Jenkins singled to left. After the first out, Josh Magee did the same. Back-to-back RBI singles by Angelo and Estave plated Jenkins and Josh Magee to make it 4-0.

The score went to 5-0 in the third. After a flyout Collin Dominguez reached on a fielder’s choice when courtesy runner Logan Jordan was forced at second. Dominguez stole second and tallied when Jenkins reached on a miscue, and it was a 5-0 game.

McElveen said after Friday’s game, the five-run lead is a huge insurance thing.

“Once you go out on the mound with a 5-0 lead and you have a defense like you know you have, it’s just so comfortable. It makes it so comfortable to pitch,” McElveen said.

McElveen, who was solid throughout, ran into a jam in the fourth inning. McElveen limited sixth-seeded St. Michael, holding the Warriors to just one run.

Nolan Tiersch and Ross Scelfo walked to lead off and then Evan Becnel singled to load the bases with nobody out.

After a pop out, Dwain Varisco drew an RBI walk, trimming the lead to 5-1.

McElveen then came back to strikeout the next two hitters, keeping the Demons’ four-run lead.

McElveen allowed just two base runners over the final three innings and the Demons turned a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth on a grounder to Dominguez, who threw to second baseman Landon Magee, and his relay throw to first baseman Johnathan Crain completed the double play.

McElveen threw a complete game, allowing one run on three hits. He finished with four strikeouts, six walks and a hit batter.

The Demons essentially put the game out of reach in the sixth by scoring three more runs. Josh Magee singled. After the first out, Estave, who had two hits, singled. Crain doubled down the right field line, sending Magee home. Following the second out, Landon Magee, who had two hits, reached on a miscue, plating Davis and Crain with the game’s final runs at 8-1.

One of the keys to the Demons strong offensive day was the Josh Magee and Angelo, the one and two hitters, combined to go six for seven with a walk, three runs scored and an RBI. Magee singled three times, walked once and scored the three runs. Angelo posted three singles with an RBI.

Magee said following the game Friday that being the leadoff hitter, he just tries to get on base any way he can.

“I know my guys behind me will do a job and pick me up,” Magee said. “Morgan had a big game too, so he did a great job.”

Saturday’s games came down to the final pitch. Franklinton hit in the top of the innings for the second contest.

Both teams scored one run in the first to begin the second game. Angelo doubled and scored two batters later on Crain’s RBI single.

The Warriors tallied in the bottom of the frame. Christopher Reid was hit. He advanced to third on a single by Chad Alello on a hit-and-run. After the first two outs were recorded, Tiersch walked to fill the bases and Scelfo drew an RBI walk to tie the game.

St. Michael went in front in the fourth inning. Scelfo reached on an error. After a strikeout, Garrett Hamilton walked. Varisco then recorded an RBI double, which plated courtesy runner Andy Mayer to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.

The next batter hit a grounder to Crain, who was playing in. Crain threw to catcher Estave. Estave ran Hamilton back toward third and tagged him out. Reid went to second during the rundown. Alello walked to load the bases with two outs. Michael Smith then hit a blooper just beyond Crain’s reach for a two-run single to right field, plating Varisco and Reid to make it 4-1.

The lead stayed that way until the seventh. The Demons mounted a two-out rally.

Josh Magee doubled. Angelo, who posted two hits, singled him home, trimming it to a 4-2 contest. The Demons were unable to get any closer in the loss.

Crain posted two hits. Estave, Landon Magee and Jamarian Crain recorded hit one each.

The deciding game was a pitcher’s duel, which came down to the seventh inning.

The contest was scoreless through six, as Angelo and Becnel were both solid.

Angelo went six-plus innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He finished with five strikeouts and three walks.

Becnel went the distance, giving up one run on eight hits. He struck out three and walked three (one intentional).

St. Michael scored twice in the seventh. Leighton Waitz and Tiersch both walked to begin. After a pitching change and a strikeout, Becnel hit a two-run single to right centerfield, sending the runners Waitz and Tiersch, who had moved up on a wild pitch, home to make it 2-0.

Franklinton still had a chance. Josh Magee, who posted two hits, began by tripling to right centerfield with one out. Angelo plated Magee with a single off of the second baseman’s glove. Estave reached on an error, but the Demons were unable to score the tying run in a tough loss.

“I told the kids, I just felt like the baseball gods weren’t with us today,” Franklinton coach Jeff Tageant said after the games Saturday. “We hit a lot of balls right at them. The last ball Johnathan (Crain) hit was to left center. You’ve got to give their guy credit. He made a great play. But we hit balls hard all day and it was right at them and they made plays. You’ve got to give St. Michael credit. They came in here and the last guy on the mound really threw well. He had a shutout to the seventh. We had some scoring opportunities. We just didn’t get the big hit. The kids are down. The kids are hurting. It’s always tough to lose the last one, but we’re not going to take away how great our season was and how special of a team this was.”

Also for Franklinton, McElveen, Landon Magee, Dominguez and Jenkins logged a hit each in the final contest.

The Demons finished the season with a 22-6 record.

The team had nine seniors, including Angelo, Austin Bradford, Johnathan Crain, Davis, Jenkins, Jordan, Lynn LeBourgeois III, Josh Magee and Landon Magee.

“They’re just nine kids that are devoted to baseball and love it,” Tageant said. “They eat, sleep and breathe it. That’s all they wanted to do. They worked and took the extra cuts. They hung out in the locker room together. They’re good friends. It’s just a special group that have played little league all of the way through. They’ve just been one of those teams that everybody said, ‘wait till they get to be a senior, wait till they get to be a senior.’ I told them when they walk out of this locker room that they have to hold their heads high because they’ve done a great job.”

St. Michael takes on second-seeded St. Thomas More Thursday in Sulphur for the semifinal round. From this point on, the playoffs are single elimination.