After rain turned away their original match, St. James (11-4) and Newburg (0-12) faced off for a non-conference game on Wednesday, April 19. Newburg was able to hang around for the first few innings, but the runs came in bunches for St. James in the later innings on the way to a 12-2 Tiger victory in six innings.
Newburg scored two earned runs in the game, both scored by Gus Enke. The Wolves used three errors to their advantage to get runs across in the first and third innings to keep the game close. After taking a 1-0 lead in the first, St. James instantly took the lead back in the bottom of the frame with two runs of their own. They then added one in the second and another in the third to claim a 4-2 lead. The biggest early run from St. James came on a solo shot by Gunnar Seams.
The game was all St. James after that, as Newburg wouldn't cross home plate for the remainder of the contest. The Tigers would go on to have their best innings of the game. Three runs came in the fourth on triples by Drew Bouse and Evan Grayson. The final run of the inning came on an error at third by Newburg. Two more runs came in the fifth, setting St. James up for a chance to win the game in the sixth.
With a 9-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers scored three runs in the inning before Newburg was able to record an out. Jaden Roark led off the inning with a single before swiping second and third. He then scored on a passed ball. Alex Evans then ripped a double before Justin Marcee was walked. A bunt from reliever Nick Wilson turned into a single to load the bases and a single by Seams, who also started the game on the mound for the Tigers, ended the game with two more RBI.
Seams and Wilson each allowed no earned runs in the Tiger victory. Seams pitched four innings, allowing two unearned runs on four hits with six strikeouts to earn the win. Wilson pitched the final two innings, allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out two.
Gus Enke started the game for Newburg, pitching 4.2 innings. He allowed eight runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Travis McWilliams came in to relieve him, allowing three earned runs in an inning and a third on four hits and a walk.
Bouse led St. James with five runs driven in and two runs scored on three hits, which included a triple. Along with pitching, Seams scored four runs, while driving in three more, on three hits, one of which was a solo shot. Lucas Bahr and Grayson also drove in runs.
This has been a busy week for St. James, so this was an interesting game to plan for in the eyes of head coach Shannon Snitker. St. James played three games over the weekend and then three straight games to to open the week. After Wednesday's game, they were also slated to play Thursday and Friday, but Thursday's matchup with Pacific was cancelled due to weather. While the Tigers won by the 10-run rule, Snitker knows his team could've done better early on to get out of this game earlier and save arms.
"Trying to get by, that was the approach," said coach Snitker. "I don't wanna take anything from Newburg, but a couple of times this year we've played down to our competition a little bit and that's something good baseball teams don't do. I'm trying to get us over that fact and that we show up to the baseball field every day with the same mindset no matter who we're playing. Once you step through the white lines, we've gotta take care of business."
Newburg head coach Matt Bailey was glad to see his team keep the game close for a few innings. The Wolves still have some work to do to get that first win. There were a few instances of "dingleberrying around" as coach Bailey jokingly put it, but they're figuring things out one step at a time.
"My pitcher kinda got away from throwing strikes," said Bailey of the difference between the early and later innings. "We made some plays early, but that's what happens when you start losing the strike zone, you start having to go after guys and they start hitting the ball. We kinda got on our heels. There were still some plays we should've made... (but) we competed. We wanna compete every night and we went six with a team that's 10-4, so we'll take that effort every night. We just gotta get back to the drawing board and we've gotta make plays...We hit the ball better today, to be honest. We didn't collect a lot of hits, but we hit the ball better and we put the bat on the ball and that's always great. Steps in the right direction, crawling before we're running."
With Thursday's conference game against Pacific rained out, St. James will next host their cross-town rival Rolla on Friday, April 21, weather permitting. The game with Pacific does not yet have a makeup date. Newburg was slated to follow up the loss with a trip to Calvary Lutheran on Thursday, April 20, but results were not available at press time. They will next play at Cuba on Monday, April 24.