The Rolla (5-1) and St. James (3-2) baseball teams wrapped up play in the Four Rivers Classic with bracket play on Saturday, March 24. Both teams were in the championship bracket and faced off for the chance to play for the tournament championship. Rolla was the victor 13-3, which put them in the championship against Pacific. St. James took third in the tournament with a 7-1 win over Owensville before Rolla smashed Pacific 14-0 to take home the tournament title.
The matchup between Rolla and St. James was closer than the final score may suggest. Rolla got out to an early 2-0 on an RBI triple by Brett Gonzalez and an RBI single by Tristan O'Neal in the first inning, but they were pretty quiet for the next few innings.
Pitchers won the second and third, as Rolla's Levi Loughridge and St. James' Drew Moritz each pitched scoreless frames. St. James then tied the game at two in the top of the fourth on RBI from Lucas Bahr and Zach Koons. That tie was short lived, however, as Rolla scored in the bottom of the frame on an RBI single from Loughridge. The Bulldogs were out in front 3-2 and wouldn't surrender that lead.
Rolla put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fifth inning when their bats really came to life. First, Gonzalez mashed a two-run home run over the wall in right center, then Loughridge knocked in two more with a single, giving the Bulldogs a 7-2 lead. St. James responded with a run in the top of the sixth on an RBI from Alex Evans, but Rolla didn't slow down. The Bulldogs batted around in the bottom of the sixth, scoring six runs on two run doubles from Gonzalez and O'Neal, as well as RBI singles from Loughridge and Blaize Klossner. Klossner's RBI put Rolla up 13-3, which ended the game on the mercy rule.
Loughridge had a great all-around game for Rolla, pitching six innings and allowing three runs, only one of which was earned on two walks and three hits, while striking out four. He also drove in four runs, while going 4-4. Gonzalez was a stellar 3-4 at the plate, which included a home run and a triple, while driving in a team-high five runs and scoring three times. O'Neal also drove in three runs on three hits and scored twice. Rolla had a total of 15 base hits in the game.
For St. James, Moritz pitched five innings, allowing seven runs, five of which were earned, on 10 hits with four strikeouts. Evans came in to pitch the final inning, getting two outs before the mercy rule, allowing six runs, four of which were earned, on six hits and a walk. Bahr, Evans and Koons all drove in runs for the Tigers.
After taking the loss, St. James had to face off against Owensville for the third place game. The Tigers were able to come away with an easy win after a stellar pitching performance by Drew Bouse. He pitched seven innings and only allowed four base hits. He allowed one run in the seventh, but the Tiger bats had already given him a 7-0 lead by that point. He also struck out six and walked two.
The offense came through for St. James against the Dutchmen. They scored once in the second, before adding three in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth to take a 7-0 lead through six innings of play. Bahr drove in two runs for St. James to lead the team, but Bouse, Lyndon Carson, Koons and Gunnar Seams each added an RBI. Seams was a perfect 3-3 at the plate with a double and two runs scored, while also walking once and stealing two bags. Bouse, Andrew Branson and Evans also had multi-hit games for the Tigers in their 7-1 win to claim third place in the tournament.
Rolla and Pacific capped off the night with the championship and the Bulldogs continued to dominate. Rolla smacked in four runs in the second, six runs in the third and four more in the fourth to run away with a 14-0 win in just five innings with the mercy rule.
Jonathan Reese had a wonderful performance on the mound, pitching five innings of one hit baseball. He also walked three batters, but struck out nine in the win.
The Bulldog offense saw several people continue to contribute in the win. Klossner drove in three runs on two hits, while scoring twice to lead the RBI count. Arthur and Davie Pound each drove in two runs, as Pound was a perfect 3-3 with three runs scored, two double and a walk, while Arthur went 2-4 with two runs scored. O'Neal kept the long ball streak going as he crushed a solo shot, while also scoring a second run and walked twice. Loughridge and Collin Woods also drove in runs. In total, Rolla collected 16 base knocks, walked five times and only struck out twice.
Rolla will have a quick turn around, as they moved up the start time of their game against Lebanon on Monday to try to get ahead of the weather. Instead of playing at 4:30, like originally scheduled, they'll get an early start at 10:30 a.m.. The Tigers have Monday off, but will travel to Newburg on Tuesday.