"We didn't execute early when we had some chances to get a couple runs, and against a good team like Austin you can't miss those chances," said St. Mary's coach Derek Dana. "Those missed opportunities will come back to bite you, and that's what happened to us today."
Bobby Alcock had a good game on the mound, tossing 4 2/3 innings and giving up just three hits with nine strikeouts. But it was his five walks, all of which came one after the other in the top of the fifth inning, led to both Austin Prep runs.
"Bobby was solid today," said Dana. "It wasn't his stuff. That was all there. But he had a little trouble with command, but that's baseball and you've got to overcome it."
Jared Coppola pitched well in the final 2 1/3 innings, while Anthony Nikolakakis (2-for-3) had the lone RBI for the Spartans.
Offensively, St. Mary's had trouble getting any consistent pressure on Austin Prep starter Colin Jaena, who tossed a complete game and gave up just one run on four hits with two strikeouts.
It was a slow start to this game, with both pitchers settling into a groove early. Alcock retired eight of the first 10 batters he faced, while Jaena battled through some baserunners to make it through his first three innings unscathed.
Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Coppola led off the inning with a walk. Next up was Nikolakakis, who took a waist-high fastball and belted it deep into the left-centerfield gap for an RBI double to get the Spartans on the board at 1-0.
It didn't take long for Austin Prep to answer. In the top of the fifth, Alcock quickly got the first two outs and appeared to be on his way to coasting through another inning. But at that point, his control seemingly left him. He went on to walk five batters in a row, bringing in two runs and giving Austin Prep a lead that they would not relinquish.
The Spartans had a chance to get a run back in the bottom of the seventh, however. After an error got the leadoff man to second base, Tommy Cash laced a hard single into right field. The hit turned out to be hit a little too hard, as Cougars rightfielder Jake Thain gunned a bullet back into the cutoff man and caught the St. Mary's runner too far off of third base for a critical out. The next batter grounded out to the pitcher, and the game was over.
While the mistakes may be frustrating, Dana knows that it's certainly not time to panic and the team will learn from this.
"We're fine, it was a 2-1 game so you can't be too upset," said Dana. "Obviously we want the win, but we didn't get it done today. So we'll be back to work tomorrow."
St. Mary's (1-1) will try to get back to its winning ways on Wednesday against Malden Catholic.