STF ALPH TAG AT PLATE

St. Francis’ Bret Madren would score after the throw to Alpharetta catcher Ben Browning came in late.

The Knights entered Friday’s contest sitting 28th in the Class-A Private power rankings. The top-24 teams in the standings earn playoff berths and beating Class 6A’s Alpharetta should bolster the Knights in the next week’s updating ratings.

“With power rankings, every game matters,” said St. Francis head coach Brandon Bates. “[Alpharetta is] a 10-win team, so this is 15 points in the power ratings for our guys.”

The Knights were led by an impressive performance from starting pitcher Jack Gerber and Zach Nozick in relief. Gerber was awarded the win allowing one run and five hits with six strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Nozick allowed two hits with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

“They both did well,” Bates said. “They were putting the ball in the zone and getting ground balls. Early on this season we were struggling to throw strikes, but lately we have come on. We have put together a rotation, our guys have been throwing strikes and we’re hoping that carries over the next few weeks.”

The Knights took a 2-0 lead with two extra-base hits in the top of the fifth. Short stop Brian Orkin hit an RBI triple with two outs and then scored on a double from Will Clark.

St. Francis scored another run with two outs in the sixth on a single from Kyle Bork.

Griffin Weaver went 2-3 and Bret Madren hit two singles to go 2-4 with a run scored.

The Knights racked up their nine hits against seven Alpharetta pitchers.

With nothing at stake for its playoff hopes, the Raiders used the non-region game to give much of its pitching staff time on the mound. Each of the Raiders’ seven pitchers went one complete inning.

“For us, the most important thing is region play,” said Alpharetta head coach Marc Lassiat. “It’s tough to lose but it doesn’t effect us as far as the postseason.”

The Raiders struggled to drive in runs in the game, stranding nine runners in scoring position.

“You don’t get those guys in and you’re going to have a hard time winning games,” Lassiat said.

Alpharetta finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a run off three straight singles from Justin Kirby, Drew Beiger and Ben Browning. Kirby and Ryan Schipf each went 2-3.

Both teams enter their final stretch on the playoff bubble and hope to secure postseason berths in their upcoming eight games.

Sitting just beyond the final playoff spot in Class A-Private, St. Francis will keep its focus on the short-term.

“We’re taking it one at a time and hopefully we can get hot down the backstretch and make some noise,” Bates said.