St. Rita coach Mike Zunica wanted some energy.
Courtesy of Marty Bechina, Zunica got what he was looking for.
The junior battled through his leadoff at-bat in the fifth, reaching base via a hit by pitch, stealing second and coming home on a hook slide to score the go-ahead run and jump start an offensive explosion.
Host St. Rita went up 2-1 on Bechina’s run and never looked back, scoring four runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth to defeat Marist 11-1 in six innings Monday afternoon in opening round action of the Reavis Regional.
“We had to do what we know we’re capable of doing,” Bechina said. “We had to be aggressive, get guys on, get them over and get them in. Just hit the ball and score those runs.”
St. Rita (8-4) will play the Marian Catholic vs. Stagg winner Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Reavis.
Bechina finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two stolen bases while also making two defensive gems at shortstop. The Mustangs finished with 15 hits overall but found themselves in a 1-1 game heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Zunica implored his team to show a little life, and they responded.
“Kids are tired now playing so much baseball, and we wanted to see a little energy,” Zunica said. “Couple more happy faces.”
Bechina came home on A.J. Fuller’s hard-hit single to left field, avoiding the tag with a nice slide and breaking up the tie game. Nate Soria followed with an RBI triple to left field, plating Fuller.
Jake Shepski added an opposite field RBI double to right center with Jake Drada (3-for-3, double, 2 RBI) hitting a bloop RBI single to center to cap the fifth-inning scoring.
“We switched our approach some and stayed back,” Bechina said. “We tried to use the middle of the field.”
The Mustangs scored six runs in the sixth to end the game.
On the mound, Nick Goldsmith overcame the heat and humidity, and his own body giving out on him late.
“I was in a rhythm early, but my body started to wear down some in the fourth or fifth,” Goldsmith said with a smile. “Mainly school ball, but I haven’t pitched that much this summer. It was all about pitching to our defense (late), and they made some great plays.”
Goldsmith earned the complete game win, giving up one run on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts.
Pat Meehan’s sacrifice fly to left scored Mike Trbovic in the fifth for Marist (5-9), the lone offense the RedHawks could muster. Marist starter Robert Hovey pitched well before his fifth inning struggles, going four-plus innings and allowing four runs on seven hits with four strikeouts.
“It was a good game through five,” Marist coach Tom Fabrizio said. “St. Rita is a good-hitting team, and we knew that. If we keep the ball down (pitching), we’ll be okay.”