Harrison Beach scoring for Oak Hall
Harrison Beach narrowly avoids Saint Francis' catcher to score the first run of the day for the Oak Hall Eagles.

Oak Hall Squeezes By Saint Francis In 9-5 Win

The Oak Hall Eagles have certainly seen better performances than their outing on Wednesday afternoon. But at the end of the day, a win is a win.

The Eagles took down the Saint Francis Catholic Wolves in a 9-5 victory to sweep the season series between the two squads. Both teams combined for 12 errors (eight for the Wolves, four for the Eagles), four wild pitches (two each) and five hit-by-pitches (two by the Wolves, three by the Eagles) on the day.

Oak Hall did have multiple bright spots on Wednesday. Jack Kuzmicki and Darion Medley combined for four of the Eagles’ eight hits. Medley also finished the day with three stolen bases and two runs scored, while Kuzmicki secured two RBIs. Harrison Beach chipped in with four runs scored, while Jack Steen knocked in two RBIs of his own.

Kuzmicki got the win on the mound for Oak Hall as well. In four innings pitched, Kuzmicki only gave up four hits, two balls and three runs (zero earned). He also struck out six batters along the way.

Gavin Jones and Jackson Beach followed Kuzmicki up on the mound to finish the final three innings. Jones pitched for 1.2 innings, allowing four walks, zero hits and two runs. Beach then took the mound for the final 1.1 innings, allowing three hits, zero walks and zero runs. Both Jones and Beach also threw three strikeouts each.

Oak Hall Gets Ahead Early On

The Eagles flew out of the gate red-hot in the first inning. Kuzmicki struck out the first two batters he saw on the day. He caught Cooper Leifers looking and got Mason Bell on a swinging third strike. After allowing a single to Nicolas Gomez-Vera, Kuzmicki secured his third strikeout of the inning to retire the side.

“I was just looking to throw strikes,” Kuzmicki said. “If I can throw the ball over the plate and they make weak contact, that’s great for us. But they were just missing it, so it worked out fine.”

With all the early momentum on their side, the Eagles got to work on the bats. Harrison Beach and Medley both made it on base via walks, with the former reaching third base on a stolen base and a tag up.

Immediately after Medley reached first, he realized Saint Francis had taken their eyes off of him. Eagles Head Coach Kevin Maris frantically signaled for him to advance to second. Right after Medley took off running, the Wolves scrambled to get the ball back into play and tag him out.

With all the attention now on Medley, Beach made a charge for home plate. Both runners ended up safe, and the Eagles had now taken the lead. Medley went on to steal third base and eventually score on a Saint Francis throwing error.

The Eagles Build Onto Their Lead

Troy Freeman then continued the inning on a hard ground ball that put him on first base. Steen followed him up with a deep ball that nearly crossed over the left field wall. Steen ended up with a double, and Freeman scored on the play. Jones then cracked a fly ball into right field that brought Steen home. By the end of the first inning, Oak Hall led 4-0.

Oak Hall managed to keep Saint Francis off the board for a little while longer. After the Wolves led off the second inning with a single and a walk, the Eagles caught a runner stealing at third base. Kuzmicki then struck out his fourth batter of the day and snagged a ground out to fend the Wolves off.

Kuzmicki then got right back to work in the bottom of the inning. With two outs on the board, Harrison Beach reached second on a Saint Francis throwing error. Kuzmicki stepped into the batter’s box, and with the count at 1-1, he blasted a hit into the outskirts of center field.

The ball took a hard bounce before flying over the wall, giving Kuzmicki a ground-rule double. As a result, Beach automatically advanced to home plate, giving Oak Hall a 5-0 lead.

Defensive Turbulence In The Third Inning

However, things took a turn for the worse in the third inning for the Eagles. Kuzmicki picked up a pair of early outs, but the Wolves managed to load the bases on two singles and a hit-by-pitch. Kuzmicki built up the count to 0-2 before Christopher Durstine knocked a ground ball over to second base.

The play quickly went awry from here. The ball slipped right by Jackson Beach, forcing Jones to chase after the ball and make the throw back into the infield. Error #1. Two runs had already scored for the Wolves as Steen corralled the ball at first base. Steen then made an arid throw to third base that flew right past Freeman. Error #2.

As the Saint Francis runner at third turned the corner for home, Neil Ruth struggled to get the ball back into play. He eventually made the throw back to home, but not before the runner had already safely landed at the plate. Error #3. The Wolves had just gone from what should have been out number three in the inning to narrowing their deficit to 5-3.

“You’re going to have [moments] like that throughout a season, where you kind of lose your mind on a play,” Coach Maris said. “Unfortunately, not one guy lost their mind; about four or five guys at the same time lost their mind.”

Kuzmicki eventually secured his fifth strikeout of the day to end the inning without any further damage. Oak Hall still had to find a way to clean their act up for the rest of the afternoon.

Oak Hall Does Damage Control

The Eagles did manage to respond with a run of their own in the bottom of the third inning. After Freeman was hit in the ankle by a Saint Francis pitch, Maris elected to replace him on the bases with Aaron Akins.

Akins stole second base right away before advancing to third on an error from the Wolves’ catcher. Steen then knocked in a sacrifice fly to bring him home. While the Wolves were still very much in the game, the Eagles had extended their lead back out to a more comfortable 6-3.

Kuzmicki refused to let the Wolves gather any more momentum in the fourth inning. He only allowed one Wolves runner on base via a hit-by-pitch before securing three swift put-outs.

Harrison Beach and Medley then got right back to work on offense. Beach tacked another walk for the day before he advanced to second on a wild pitch. He then went on to steal third base and eventually scored on a Wolves throwing error.

In the next at-bat, Medley nailed in a perfectly-hit bunt for a single. After another Saint Francis error, Medley sprinted around second base and landed at third. He then scored on a wild pitch in the subsequent plate appearance. By the time the dust had settled, the Eagles led 8-3.

Medley, a former Saint Francis Catholic Wolf himself, felt pleased about his performance on the day. He cited his lackluster performance against his old squad earlier in the season as a motivator for him entering Wednesday’s game.

“The first game, I did not do so well,” Medley said. “I was pretty upset with that, knowing I could do better… I turned the page [today] and started doing better.”

Staving The Wolves Off For The Win

Jones took to the mound in the top of the fifth inning, and he picked up right where Kuzmicki left off. He struck out the first two batters he faced before snagging an impressive line out to keep Saint Francis off the board in the fifth.

One inning later, Jones started to struggle. After striking out the Wolves’ leadoff batter, he allowed four consecutive runners to reach the bases on three walks and a hit-by-pitch. The Eagles did manage to catch a runner stealing at third base, but they also surrendered a run on an error one at-bat later.

Jackson Beach eventually took over on the mound with two outs on the board. Despite the Wolves tacking on another run via a single into left field, their offensive surge came to a screeching halt on a pick off at first base. Saint Francis had still managed to cut their deficit down to 8-5.

Oak Hall managed to take over for good in the bottom of the sixth. Harrison Beach hit a leadoff single and advanced to third on an error from the Saint Francis pitcher. In the next at-bat, Kuzmicki cracked a line drive into left field that brought Beach home and gave Oak Hall a 9-5 lead.

Jackson Beach then finished the Wolves off with ease in the seventh inning. Despite surrendering a pair of singles, Beach struck out three Saint Francis batters to cap off a gritty win for the Eagles.

Oak Hall will finish off a busy week with a road matchup against the Trenton Tigers on April 7. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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