The big showdown between SLA and Randolph had loomed all season long. Aside from Randolph being SLA's most historically heated rival, the recent success of both programs made it a foregone conclusion that the winner of their head-to-head would be in line for a playoff berth. Both teams came into the showdown 6-1, tied for 2nd, and in need of a win to keep pace with University City who remains undefeated.
SLA followed the normal formula of putting their 1 and 2-hitters on base for Jeff Schwartz and Kevin Courtney, the hard-throwing freshman, to drive them in. This time around Randolph's defense held them to 2 runs and got them right back when Courtney struggled with his location in the first.
Justo Rodriguez, the hard-throwing All-Public League pitcher for Randolph, and Courtney settled down in the 2nd, both striking out the side, but SLA was back at it in the 3rd. Abe Musselman got it started off with a roaring double to the gap in Left Center and Kevin Courtney drove him and Jeff Schwartz in with a double of his own. Courtney would score a batter later when Nick Manton sliced one down the first base line to make it 5-2.
Courtney's command issues resurfaced when he hit the first two batters he faced in the 3rd, putting himself in a quick jam. However, Randolph's hitters crowded the plate and the Umpire didn't grant Courtney the inside of the plate all game. They eventually squeezed a run in when a dropped third strike forced a calculated throw to first to ensure the out was recorded. Both sides seemed destined for a see-saw war of attrition, but Courtney induced two groundouts to end the frame and hold the lead at 5-3.
The energy was high for Randolph when Rodriguez took the mound in the 4th, but The Rocket used this third time around to prove they can play at the next level. SLA batted around in the 4th, scored ten runs off 10 hits (three of them doubles by Schwartz, Courtney and Mike Ostrowski) and Mike Sanders laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt to transform a one-time nail-biter into a commanding mercy-rule win.
Courtney closed out a 3-hit complete game performance in the 5th. He finished the day with 11 Strikeouts, and The Rocket provided plenty of fire power with 16 runs on 14 hits. With the win, SLA improves to 7-1 and moved into sole possession of 2nd place. Their next game is Tues, 4/30 vs. upstart Rush.