METAIRIE — Zachary Rider returned to baseball in time to make 15th-seeded Kinder the latest program to upset John Curtis in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs
The second-seeded Patriots fell 7-2 on Monday evening as Rider, playing in just his third game of the season — and second on the mound — pitched a two-hit complete game at Mike Miley Stadium, striking out seven thanks to a bevy of offspeed pitches and fastballs, more than enough to perplex Curtis batters.
“I just got comfortable on the mound, found my rhythm. And that’s basically all I needed to do,” said Rider, who last August tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee playing football for his school.
“We fed off of that, and hit the ball good. Team effort.”
Rider also made an impact at the plate, where he went 4-for-4 and drove in runs in the second and fourth, allowing Kinder (21-11) to jump out to an early lead and cruise into the 2A quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Curtis (23-7) never recovered from a sloppy start in the field, as well as on the mound.
Starter Matt Radert was unable to locate his curveball and changeup, and as Rider led Kinder to three runs apiece in the first and second innings, Curtis batters pressed at the plate, coach Johnny Curtis said.
The Patriots did not tally a hit until Hunter Spears’ infield single in the sixth inning. Even then, Spears was then caught trying to steal second. Eighth-grader Daniel Cabrera, who pitched for Curtis in the ninth inning, had Curtis’ other hit with a double in the seventh.
“You get caught in unusual situations, a lot of pressure, and it brings out a lot of different emotions,” Curtis said. “That kind of was it. All the credit goes to their guys for moving it in and out.”
Curtis has not advanced past the second round of the Class 2A playoffs since 2010. Last season’s squad fell 4-3 in the second round to Holy Savior Menard. The previous season, Curtis lost to St. Charles (10-3). On Monday, Kinder added its name to the list.
Curtis scored its lone runs in the bottom of the first. Rider walked his first three batters, perhaps his toughest moment of the regional playoff. Mossy Mueller scored on an error at first. and Austin Linden’s sacrifice fly to left drove in Harry Chairs.
From there, Rider’s confidence improved and the Patriots’ hitting worsened.
“This time was was too good to lose in the second round,” Spears said. “We made too many mistakes. Nothing about this game was good... We came out too tight.”
Radert allowed five earned runs on six hits in 1.1 innings. Hileman, who on Thursday teamed with Radert to pitch an 8-0 bidistrict shutout of 31st-seeded Oakdale, enjoyed no such success Monday.
In the fourth, Rider’s double to left gave Kinder a five-run lead it never surrendered.
“They hit the ball; we didn’t,” Hileman said. “They got on base; we didn’t. They threw more strikes than us.
“Same time as last year, same round we lost in. Not how we wanted to end it at all.”