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ST. MARYS — St. Marys’ sputtering offense broke out in a big way against its biggest rival.
St. Marys exploded for a seven-run fourth inning and earned its first win of the season over Celina 10-5 at K.C. Geiger Park on Thursday.
“When you’ve struggled for a while and one of those hits comes off the bat, it feels really good,” St. Marys infielder Mason Gross said after his 3-for-4 night with two runs scored and two runs batted in. “We struggled a couple games this year to put runs up. We’ve pitched and fielded well enough to win some games, and finally the hitting came through.”
“We have been so close so many times,” St. Marys head coach Dave Huber said. “This is definitely something for us to build on. We’re happy to get that first win....It is a big deal.”
Tristan Becker rounds third and heads for home during St. Marys' 10-5 win over Celina. (Staff Photo/ Brian Smith)
St. Marys sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth. Nathan Wilker led off the rally with an opposite field double sliced into the left field corner. After a flyout to center field, Codie Deaton reached on a throwing error. Gross delivered the Roughriders’ first run with an RBI single up the middle to tie the game, 1-1.
“We make an error, we don’t catch a pop-up and we should’ve been out of the inning with maybe one run scored,” Celina head coach Drew Braun said. “Instead, we start kicking the ball around, they get a couple of hits and it starts snowballing. All of a sudden they have seven runs. It’s all about making plays and right now we’re not making plays.”
The Roughriders were off and running.
Brandon Coffey rifled a liner through the right side of the infield to plate the second run.
After Dirk Fenwick reached on another Celina error and a strikeout, Nathan Vogel chopped a single through the box to make it 3-1 and keep the bases loaded.
Fitzgerald followed with a towering blast into deep center field for a double that brought home Coffey, Fenwick and Vogel to give St. Marys a 6-1 lead.
“I think that first hit got us going and it didn’t stop there,” said St. Marys third baseman Isaac Fitzgerald, who was 2-for-4 with those three RBI.
Wilker added his second double of the inning to bring in Fitzgerald and St. Marys led 7-1 through four innings.
Up and down the line-up St. Marys got contributions, as seven of the nine starters scored a run.
Gross was 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Wilker was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Fitzgerald was 2-for-4 with the bases-clearing three-run double in the fourth inning. Nathan Vogel was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Brandon Coffey had a pair of RBI singles, including a two-out hit in the fourth. Codie Deaton singled and scored a run. His replacement Austin James brought in a run with an RBI groundout.
Fitzgerald said the Roughriders got a pre-game pep talk from former St. Marys baseball coach Bill Cheslock. “We had Cheslock come in and talk to us and he just gave us some motivation,” Fitzgerald said.
St. Marys used three pitchers to hold down the Celina offense. Codie Deaton started and worked the first four innings to earn the win. Deaton allowed one run on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Austin James threw two innings before Nathan Wilker worked the seventh.
Celina tried to get back in the game with two runs in the fifth and single runs in the sixth and seventh innings, but St. Marys pitching limited the damage and the offense kept adding runs.
“When the opponent scores, you always want to try to answer and that’s something we have not been able to do up until this stage,” Huber said.
After Celina’s Jimmy Luebke hit a two-run double in the fifth, St. Marys responded with Coffey’s second RBI single of the game, this time a laser into left field that brought home Gross, who had doubled with one out.
Celina scored a run in the sixth on a wild pitch before the Roughriders got two runs on an RBI groundout by Austin James and an RBI single by Gross.
Arick Fickert scored Celina’s fifth run in the seventh after he led off the inning with a double, but Wilker got a groundout to shortstop to end the game and St. Marys celebrated its first regular season and Western Buckeye League win.
In the early going, St. Marys head coach Dave Huber wondered if his team were in for another night of rotten luck with runners in scoring position after St. Marys got runners to second and third with no outs in the second, only to line out and hit two weak grounders to strand the runners.
“We hit balls right at people early and it was the same ol’, same ol’ but the boys kept plugging and they started falling for us,” Huber said.
Celina took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Jimmy Luebke RBI single.
Celina’s Luebke was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in. Kaleb Kuhn went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Fickert was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and a double.