PACIFICA, Calif. — Last season, the Serra Padres battered a then-moribund St. Ignatius program, 7-0 and 11-5. The Wildcats would go on to go 1-13 in West Catholic Athletic League play, and 9-18 overall.
After three years under .500, new coach Brian Pollzzie had St. Ignatius off to a fast start at 4-1, and through five innings on Tuesday in the WCAL opener, was right with the reigning league champ, trailing 3-2. The old rivalry, it seemed, was alive and well once again.
The Padres then scored four runs over the final two innings, led by a bases-loaded double from shortstop Dominic Meza, and cruised to a 7-2 win in a game moved to Fairmont Field, winning their third straight and sixth of their last seven meetings with St. Ignatius.
“We love the competition,” said Meza, the Cal State San Marcos-bound infielder who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs in the win. “It’s always nice to have a battle.”
Serra senior righty Juliano Rodriguez allowed just one hit over his five innings, striking out eight and allowing two runs, with only one earned. He was able to work in and out with his fastball and drop the occasional change and show-me curve to keep the Wildcats off balance in his fourth outing of the year.
Rodriguez and St. Ignatius starter Nick Miglio matched scoreless innings over the first three frames, with Miglio facing the minimum (thanks to a caught stealing by his catcher, Vicente Molina) and Rodriguez facing one over. Miglio took the loss, but only one of his three runs allowed was earned.
In the fourth, Miglio hit senior Jeremy Villar in the upper arm with one out. A ground out to third moved Villar to second, and then Meza stepped up and lined a 1-2 offering back up the middle for an RBI single, his first of two run-scoring hits of the day.
“It was a clutch knock, and that really got us going,” Meza said.
An error and a passed ball put two men in scoring position for Serra’s 6-foot-5 junior first baseman Michael Sarhatt, and he promptly banged a line drive through the right side to bring home a run, putting the Padres up 2-0.
St. Ignatius three-hole hitter Justin Williamson led off the fourth with a triple, and rode home on a groundout to short by junior third baseman Mario Demera to cut the lead in half, but Serra answered right back in the top of the fifth, when an error, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly to right scored Padres pinch runner Logan Azem.
After the Wildcats answered in the bottom of the frame, Serra got an excuse-me RBI single up the middle by pinch hitter Christian Falk in the top of the sixth. Falk drove in Meza, who took a five-pitch walk to lead off the inning, and advanced on a hard shot to third and then a wild pitch.
Meza did things himself in the seventh, crushing a bases-loaded 1-1 offering from Clifford deep to left and into the base of a chainlink fence easily over 400 feet away on the open, multipurpose turf field for a ground rule double. Two runs came around to score, and Meza was kept at second, but Palladino came up with a sacrifice fly to right to provide the final margin.
“That one was pretty good, probably one of my [hardest-hit] ones,” Meza said.
Serra (5-2, 1-0 in WCAL) will now head to Valley Christian on Friday for a 4 p.m. game, and then host St. Francis on Saturday for an 11 a.m. matinee.
St. Ignatius (4-2, 0-1) will face Bellarmine Prep on Friday, before hosting the decisive Bruce-Mahoney baseball game at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday at noon.