ALEXANDRIA – Saint Patrick wanted to show it could compete and be respectable at the 10th Region baseball tournament at Campbell County.
For the first five outs, the Saints looked like they belonged, trailing 40th district champ Montgomery County 1-0 in the second inning with two outs. But then a couple of Indians reached base and a Laken Robertson blooper that was almost caught by a matter of inches opened up the floodgates, as the Indians cruised to a 16-0 win Monday in the quarterfinals.
“Of course it’s a game of inches. There was a pop into no-mans land and Eli (Frye) had a long way to go, got a glove on it and almost made a great catch and we’re out of that inning,” Saints coach J.T. Williams said. “But that’s baseball.”
Robertson’s single drove in three runs and Montgomery took off from there, adding four more runs in the third and eight in the fourth to earn the shortened, five inning run-rule victory.
The Saints were able to muster up just two hits in the contest as their season came to a close with a 6-7 record, their most wins since the 2012 season, this year being the first under Williams.
“I love it. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved baseball. I wanted to be the manager of the Reds growing up. I didn’t quite make it there, but this year was a blast. The difficult part is the logistics of it, the weather, the re-scheduling, the pitch counts,” Williams said. “As far as the season goes, the kids got to play at Florence Freedom Field, we had that heck of the game in the district semifinals and we got to play in the region. At St. Pat, that’s about all you can ask for.”
After Jack Gallenstein retired the Indians side in the first, it looked as if the Saints were going to get out of the second unscathed as well. A bang-bang play at the plate in which a passed ball scurried past catcher Cesar Briseno resulted in Luke Fuller being called safe as Gallenstein laid down a tag.
“There were two plays at the plate that were a matter of inches,” Williams said.
From there, a single and two walks loaded the bases for Robertson. His pop to right center hung up for a while before right fielder Eli Frye charged in, but came up just short for the inning-ending catch as three runs scored, giving Montgomery a 4-0 advantage.
A four-run third gave the Indians an 8-0 lead as they knocked four hits…a Jake Sponcil RBI double, Aaron Toy RBI single, Robertson sac fly and Brandon Dyer reaching on an error, scoring Braxton Hurley the damage in the frame.
Montgomery County freshman Spencer Donathan retired six straight after a Baylen Bauer single in the second to help leave the Saints scoreless after their first four innings at-bat.
The Indians piled it on from there as they added eight more runs in the fourth to get the game to a run-rule scenario.
“The heat caught up to us and the ole’ errors came back to haunt us,” Williams said.
St. Patrick was able to get two runners on in the fifth when Ben Swolsky singled and Aiden Klee walked, but a strikeout, Donathan’s seventh of the contest ended the game.
“The first three innings I thought for sure we were respectable. They were a better team than us. No doubt about it. I was hoping to keep it under 10 or so, obviously wanted to win, but I couldn’t ask for anything more from these guys,” Williams said.
The win gets the Indians to the 10th Region semifinals as they‘ll take on Bishop Brossart in the semifinals. George Rogers Clark and Campbell County will face off in the first semifinal Tuesday at 5 p.m.
For the Saints, they’ll have to replace five seniors for a team that deals with low numbers on an annual basis, often times not knowing if they’ll be able to field a team right before the season starts.
“To make it even tougher, three of our seniors are pitchers. I’ll go ahead and schedule for next year and we’ll gauge interest like we always do. Probably what will happen like we do every spring, it will look like we don’t have enough numbers and kids will step up and we’ll have a team. We had some kids this year that never played and made some great strides from the start to the end of the season. I feel there’s a base their to build off,” Williams said.
St. Patrick returns seven players from this year’s team.
2B- (MC) Fuller
3B- (MC) Jacobs
RBI- (MC) Robertson 4, Dyer 4, Adams 2, Sponcil, Toy, Jacobs, Hollins, Igo
LOB- St. Pat 2, Montgomery 7
WP- Donathan. LP- Gallenstein.
Records: St. Patrick 6-7, Montgomery County 18-11