ELIDA — St. Marys’ pitching and defense has the team playing its best baseball heading into the regular season’s final weeks. The latest proof was a 4-1 win over Elida at Ed Sandy Field on Monday.
Codie Deaton held the Elida offense in check for five-plus innings before Austin James finished things off for the save with two innings of one-run relief to lead the Roughriders to their second straight win.
“Codie pitched a really, really good game,” St. Marys head coach Dave Huber said. “We really didn’t give him any breathing room, but he kept his composure and kept battling. He was a leader tonight.”
Deaton went five innings, giving up one run on four hits to lead the Riders to their fourth win in their last seven games after the team began the campaign 0-10.
“We are a much better ballclub now than we were when the season started,” Huber said. “I think we’re moving forward.”
And just in time, as the Roughriders begin tournament play this Saturday at Elida against Kenton at 10 a.m. “Hopefully that will set the tone for us and we can build on this for when we come over on Saturday,” Huber said. “And I think we’re even in the same dugout.”
Deaton and Elida starter Jake Porter locked horns for the first five innings, as the two starters gave up just one run between them over the first five innings. Porter threw a complete game, giving up four runs on 10 hits.
St. Marys took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. After Nathan Vogel singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, Nathan Wilker pulled a pitch down the first base line for a two-out RBI double to score Vogel.
Vogel helped keep to keep the Riders’ lead at 1-0 with a diving catch in foul territory in right field for the third out of the inning with the tying run on third base.
“We’re very pleased with our outfield defensively,” Huber said. “We challenged them early in the season to not let anything drop and I think they’ve taken that to heart. Nathan had a great catch and an important catch.”
St. Marys added a run in the sixth. Wilker hit a one-out opposite field single. Mason Gross followed with a single and after a wild pitch the Roughriders had runners at second and third with one out and Tyler Rose at the plate. Rose singled to score Wilker, but Gross was thrown out after rounding third and getting caught in a rundown.
St. Marys didn’t help itself on the basepaths much. At one point in the middle of the game, St. Marys had four out of five batters get retired on the basepaths after reaching base.
Elida crept a run closer in the bottom of the sixth. Deaton departed after he allowed singles to the first two Elida batters of the inning, one from Travis Watkins and an RBI hit from Ian Haidle. James got out of the jam by getting an out on a sac bunt, another on a pop out out to first base and a chopper back to the mound that kept the tying run at third base.
St. Marys added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Tristan Becker led off with a triple on a line drive past the centerfielder. Jared Knous drove him home with an RBI single to give the Riders a 3-1 lead. Two batters later, Vogel brought home Knous with a sacrifice fly to medium center that made it 4-1.
“If we didn’t score those runs in the top of the inning, the bottom of the inning could’ve turned out much differently,” Huber said.
James ended the game by striking out four Elida hitters in the bottom of the seventh. After he retired the first two batters via strikeout, Josh Carder reached after swinging and missing at a dropped third strike. He ran to first to extend the game. After a walk brought the tying run to the plate, Max Stambaugh struck out looking to end the contest.
The game was originally scheduled to be played in April but was rained out.
The win was St. Marys’ second straight after it finished off a split with Sidney in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Roughriders improved to 4-13 and 2-5 in the WBL. They host Ottawa-Glandorf tonight at 5 p.m. at K.C. Geiger Park.