ST. MARYS — The St. Marys baseball team couldn’t take advantage of its two-out bases-loaded situation early in the game. Lima Central Catholic turned that exact scenario a half inning later into what turned out to be the game-deciding rally.
The complexion of the St. Marys-Lima Central Catholic game on Tuesday — a game LCC won 8-4 — changed drastically over the short span of an inning.
The Roughriders, leading 2-1, left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning against LCC junior Trevor Hoff, who was making his first-ever varsity start.
St. Marys stranded 14 runners in the game, including seven baserunners in the first three innings.
“It was the first time of many we pitched our way out of trouble,” LCC head coach John Schnieders said. “We’re seeing some of our guys on the mound for the first time this spring and to see the poise that they showed in rally situations, it was really impressive.”
LCC made the most of its opportunities.
In the top of the third LCC scored five runs after two were out, a rally that included a bases-clearing 3-run double by the Thunderbirds’ Ben Stolly.
Stolly finished the game 2-for-3 with four runs batted in.
“One of the rules of baseball is to avoid the big inning, and clearly that’s something we did not do,” St. Marys head coach Dave Huber said.
That two-out rally proved to be the difference, and it almost never happened.
After LCC (1-1) loaded the bases with one out in the third, St. Marys starting pitcher Codie Deaton appeared to wriggle his way out of the jam when he struck out Nick Watkins for the second out of the inning and then got a grounder to third base off the bat of Jacob Judy. But LCC’s Colin Stolly beat St. Marys third baseman Mason Gross to the bag. In the very next at-bat, it happened again when Corey O’Dowd hit another topper to third. LCC took a 3-2 lead.
The T-Birds weren’t done, as Stolly plugged the gap in left-center that cleared the bases to take a 6-2 lead through three innings.
“It really took the angst out of our dugout,” Schnieders said. “It calmed everybody down and it was obviously, it was a huge hit.”
St. Marys is 0-2, but the Roughriders have played a tough early schedule. After falling to a good Bellefontaine team 9-0 on Saturday, the Roughriders took on the defending Division III state runner-up T-Birds.
“We’re being tested really early, but while we want to win, we’re looking for improvement,” Huber said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
St. Marys took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when the heart of the Roughrider order Mason Gross, Isaac Fitzgerald and Tyler Rose hit three straight singles — the latter two plating runs. But a double play with runners on first and second and one out ended the threat.
Fitzgerald went 3-for-4. Rose was 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.
The Riders added another run in the third. Fitzgerald singled to start the frame and Rose plated him with an RBI double.
St. Marys pitchers Deaton and Austin James kept St. Marys in the game. They didn’t walk any batters and held LCC scoreless for the next three innings before the T-Birds added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh off James.
“Codie pitched well enough that it probably shouldn’t have gone down the way it did for him,” Huber said.
The T-Birds would need them as St. Marys scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning.The tying run was on deck when LCC nailed things down with a strikeout with runners on second and third after Jared Knous and Austin James singled along with an LCC error in the outfield.
Tristan Becker and Tyler Rose had two-hit games and Isaac Fitzgerald had three hits for the Roughriders, who host Coldwater on Friday night before heading down to Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Saturday at 1 p.m. to face the defending Division IV state champions, Minster.