We got see a matchup that could excite local baseball fans for the next couple of seasons at the Bear River Sports Complex on Friday evening, as St. Bernard’s freshman Michael Manzi and Ferndale sophomore Parker Prior served up an entertaining pitchers’ duel in the Little 4 finale.
Manzi and the Crusaders took the victory by a score of 4-0.
The outstanding freshman pitched a complete-game shutout and allowed just three hits and no walks, while striking out eight.
Prior also impressed, allowing just two earned runs on five hits and also did not walk a batter.
“That should be a good matchup for years to come,” Ferndale head coach Justin Andersen said of the pitchers. “I thought Parker threw a heck of a game. Unfortunately offensively we just couldn’t put anything together.”
Tyler Maples led the way at the plate for the Crusaders, going 2-for-3 and hitting a key double that kickstarted the SB offense.
He also scored twice.
“Manzi and Maples carried us to victory tonight,” said St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin, whose team closes out league play 12-0 (17-7 overall). “Manzi was pounding the strike zone with all of his pitches and had a dominating performance
Tomlin added that Maples’ double “woke up our offense and got our bats going.”
Teammate Mateo Gutierrez was 2-for-3 with an RBI and Tyson Meyer was 1-for-2 with an RBI.
The Crusaders graduated eight seniors from last year’s NorCal state championship team but have not missed a beat.
“I want to say how proud I am of my players and coaches,” Tomlin said. “We graduated a lot of very good players last year. The seniors have shown great leadership and the young kids have stepped up and filled some very valuable positions.
“My assistant coaches are the best in the business and they have these kids ready to go every day. Undefeated league champions feels great.”
Prior and Thomas Fergison each had a hit for the Wildcats, who closed out league play 6-6 and finished second.
The loss was the second in two days to the Crusaders, but Friday’s performance was better than in Thursday’s 11-0 loss in five innings.
“I was happy with the way our kids bounced back from last night’s performance and competed,” Andersen said. “We just have to continue to put our best foot forward and continue to get better every day because from here on there is no second chances.”
The Cats, who are 7-7 overall, will advance to next week’s Charlie Lakin tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Little 4.