TAMPA — Jesuit right-hander Jordan Parnell quickly tallied the first three outs, turning things over to an offense that averages 12 runs per game.
Then the Tigers’ first four batters each got a hit against Knoxville (Tenn.) Catholic starter Austin Kearney, three of them doubles.
By the time the first inning was over, Kearney had been replaced on the mound, the Tigers had scored seven runs and their hold on the Jesuit Easter Tournament championship trophy was all but assured again.
“When you get the first four guys to at least second base, you know your guys are locked in,” Jesuit coach Richie Warren said. “There was a feeling in the dugout that we were going to have a good night.”
Indeed. The Tigers cruised to a 13-0, five-inning win over Knoxville Catholic in the tournament final Friday, putting an anticlimactic finish to a doubleheader necessitated because of rainouts the previous day.
Jesuit (20-0), the nation’s top-ranked team in at least two major polls, has won the Easter tournament since its start in 2008.
The Fighting Irish (14-4) came nearly 660 miles south to Tampa for the tournament, where they learned what local teams have known all season: the Tigers have the look of a champion.
“As far as a mythical No. 1 goes, I would vote for Jesuit myself,” said Knoxville Catholic coach Adam Sullivan.
The Tigers’ run of dominance continued against their out-of-town guests: they won their four tournament games by a combined score of 30-2.
In their semifinal earlier in the afternoon, senior right-hander Spencer Trayner pitched the Tigers to a 5-1 victory over Regis Jesuit of Aurora, Colo. He allowed only one hit, a sixth-inning homer, and had 11 strikeouts and two walks.
Trayner outdueled Regis Jesuit’s 6-foot-6 lefty and University of Oregon commit David Peterson, who retired the first 11 batters before allowing a two-out single to Vincent Miniet in the bottom of the fourth.
Then the Raiders’ defense imploded, allowing a passed ball and two straight wild pitches that sent Miniet home for the game’s first run.
Regis Jesuit’s problems on defense only got worse in the fifth. The Raiders opened the inning with consecutive errors and a stolen base that placed runners on second and third base.
Kennie Taylor’s sacrifice fly to rightfield drove in a run, and a throwing error from the Raiders’ catcher to first base and a wild pitch scored two more runs for a 4-0 lead.
“We played them very close and then they made a lot of mental mistakes in our favor,” said Taylor, a sophomore leadoff hitter.
Warren, coach of Jesuit since 2007, said he worried about how his team might respond to having to play the final only an hour after the semifinal. He couldn’t remember ever having to play a doubleheader since coming to Jesuit.
But the Tigers quickly allayed his concerns, starting with Parnell — a 6-foot-6 senior who is the team’s fourth starting pitcher and committed to High Point (N.C.) University.
Parnell struck out 10 of the 17 batters he faced, giving up only two hits and extending his seasonlong scoreless streak to 20 innings.
After quickly working through the first three hitters, Parnell received all the run support he would need in the first.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about anything. You know your offense is going to take care of everything.”