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posted: 5/19/2012 5:29 PM

Richmond's experience too much for St. Edward

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Host and top seed Richmond-Burton, which advanced last season to a Class 3A sectional final, erupted for 7 runs on 5 hits in the second inning and cruised to an 8-0 victory in a Class 2A regional title game behind the complete-gameout effort of junior Ryne Blanton.

St. Edward's lineup featured but two seniors: Sean Richmond and four-year varsity pitcher Luke Duffy.

Duffy took the hill for St. Edward (19-17). The future Washington University football and baseball player minimized the damage of a first-inning unearned run by striking out Blanton with a runner aboard.

However, the Rockets discovered the launch codes with two outs in the second inning. A bad-hop single and a walk put runners on base for leadoff man E.J. Trapino, who promptly made it 3-0 with a 2-run triple to the right-center field wall.

Evan Giacomo followed with a single to center field to score Trapino, but Richmond-Burton (25-9) wasn't done. Donny Stupienski drew another walk, and Matt Malecki doubled to the wall in left.

That signaled the end for Duffy (3-6), a four-year varsity pitcher. He was touched for 6 runs on 4 hits in 1 innings, walked 2 and struck out 2.

"There's no excuse. I can take it upon myself," said Duffy, who graduates with a 4.5 grade-point average. "I could blame the umps, I could blame some of the freshmen on the field, or blame my catcher. But it's my fault. I didn't perform. It's really the story of the whole season. I guess I just wasn't up to what I was last year."

Duffy was relieved by freshman Jake LaFrenz. The left-hander was greeted by a 3-run homer to left off the bat of Blanton that extended the deficit to 8-0. LaFrenz, who entered the game with a 6-3 record and 1.86 ERA, proceeded to shut out the Rockets on 4 hits over his final four innings.

St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi felt Duffy (3-6) gave the underdog Green Wave its best chance to win due to his experience and leadership, but it just wasn't his day.

"He's got that fire, he's got that intensity, that self-confidence. He'll battle through anything," Dovichi said of Duffy. "I don't regret it. I'll think about it, but I don't regret it. When you go for a championship, you want to go with your best. Luke was our best option."

Meanwhile, Blanton (8-3) powered his way to his second victory of the regional tournament. After picking up a semifinal victory with 2 relief innings against Wheaton Academy, he held St. Edward to 4 hits and struck out 13. The Rockets advance to the Morrison sectional semifinal against the host team on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

St. Edward will take the experience of winning 2 playoff games on the heels of an above .500 season and attempt to come back stronger next spring.

"Most of our kids are juniors now," Dovichi said. "They're going to step up a little bit, grow, get stronger, get faster and build on it. When you taste it, you want it next year. They'll be gunning for it."

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