TAMPA — Against arguably the county's fiercest schedule, the Academy of the Holy Names' rookie-laden lineup has rarely flinched. But it has flubbed on occasion.
Tuesday night against St. Petersburg Catholic, another momentary defensive lapse kept the Jaguars (7-8, 5-3 Class 3A, District 10) from notching their second quality win in six nights. Held scoreless by freshman ace Emily Gaitan through the first five innings, the Barons scored three runs off two throwing errors and a passed ball in the sixth to escape with a 3-0 triumph.
"One little hiccup and it changes the ball game," said Jags coach Don Barron, who didn't start one junior or senior and put three freshmen atop his batting order. "We had our chances."
Such has been the modus operandi for Holy Names, which could have forged a three-way tie for the district's top seed with a victory. Instead, Barron saw a near replicate of his team's first meeting with the Barons (15-3, 6-1): a 4-0 defeat in which the Jags committed three errors.
"As tight as it was, (a miscue) is all it takes," Barons coach Tommy Fabian said. "Otherwise, we might still be playing."
For a while, Gaitan (six hits, nine strikeouts, one walk) and senior counterpart Chloe Saganowich (three hits, 13 strikeouts, two walks) appeared destined to toss the game into extra innings. Through the first five innings, Gaitan allowed two runners to reach second; Saganowich allowed one.
The floodgates opened with two out in the top of the sixth, when Kelsey Humphrey and Saganowich — who had reached on a fielder's choice and a single, respectively — scored on back-to-back errors resulting from Madison Saganowich's grounder to short. Madison Saganowich later scored on a passed ball.
The Jags loaded the bases with two out in the seventh on a Gaitan single and two walks, but Chloe Saganowich got freshman Caroline Sutton to swing at an outside curve to end the game. Sutton had fouled off a half-dozen two-strike pitches, including a sharp liner to left that landed just shy of fair territory.
"I was panicking because the thing was, I didn't want to throw a rise ball or nothing because it could've been a passed ball and they might get two (runs) out of it," Fabian said. "I just tried to stay away from her and go way in, way out, throw changeups, whatever."