The St. James baseball team hosted Bourbon for a matchup on Monday, April 8. It was a rare home game for the Tigers, as they've had to shift several home games to different fields due to weather. St. James certainly appreciated the home cooking on Monday, as they were able to outlast Bourbon 6-3 thanks to some hot bats.
The first few innings Monday night were all about pitching. Bourbon had just one hit in the first three innings, as did St. James. The Tigers were able to put some pressure on early by drawing walks, but couldn't scrape together any runs until the third inning. That's when Lucas Bahr stepped up and smacked a solo shot to centerfield to put the Tigers on the board.
The home run by Bahr seemed to provide the spark both teams were looking for, as Bourbon came out swinging in the top of the fourth. They scored a pair of runs in the inning on an RBI double and a sac fly, which put the Tigers behind 2-1. St. James didn't take long to respond though, as they punched back in the bottom of the frame. After a leadoff single by Lyndon Carson, Derek Skaggs reached on an infield single. A fielder's choice at third put runners on first and second with one out, before Logan Saxbury dropped down a bunt. He nearly legged it out for a single, but was called out, putting runners on second and third. A walk from Trey Riley then loaded the bases for Andrew Branson, who lined a ball out to right-center for a two-run double, giving St. James a 3-2 lead.
St. James put the game away in the sixth inning. Tyler Teague led off the inning with a single before swiping second. He then advanced to third on a balk. After a strikeout, Riley drew another walk and stole second. Branson stepped up with another RBI chance and he pulled through again. He hit a pop up to shallow center, which was just deep enough for Teague to score from third. Drew Moritz followed that with a two-out RBI single, which led to a Bourbon pitching change. Moritz was able to swipe second and advanced to third on a passed ball, before scoring on an RBI single from Bahr, which extended St. James' lead to 6-3.
Bourbon was able to push one run across in the seventh on a sac fly and nearly added more. St. James almost ended the game in a run down between second and third on the sac fly, but an errant throw went out of play and put the Bourbon runner on third. Skaggs stepped up big on the mound, getting a strikeout to finish off a complete game win.
Skaggs pitched all seven innings in his second start of the season. He allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks, striking four batters along the way. Head coach Shannon Snitker has really appreciated what the sophomore has added to the rotation so far this year.
"Derek has had two really quality starts for us as a sophomore. He pitched really well against Vienna and had the lead going into the sixth inning and then pitched well again here," said Snitker. "He kept his pitch count low and he was just doing his job. He was hitting spots and kept them off balance enough to let us field the baseball behind him and got a strikeout mixed in here or there. He's doing a really good job on the mound."
Offensively, St. James was led by Bahr and Branson. Bahr went 3-3 on the day, driving in two and scoring once on his home run. Bahr also drew a walk and stole a base in the win. Branson drove in three runs, going 1-3, while also drawing a walk and stealing a base. Moritz was 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Teague scored twice in the win, going 1-3 with a stolen base. Skaggs was 1-2 with a walk and a run scored. As a team, St. James had eight hits, while taking six walks. The Tigers also stole six bases in the win.
Coach Snitker was impressed with Bahr's performance in the win. While he's been up and down to start the season, Snitker can see Bahr is about to break through and a great performance against Bourbon was a good start.
"He's going to get going here I think. He struggled a little bit early, but today I liked all of his at-bats, they were all quality at-bats," said the St. James head coach. "He was hitting the ball on the line, he's hitting it hard and if he's hitting like that, he's a tough out."
Branson had another strong performance at the top of the lineup. The Tigers' leading hitter drove in three more runs and has been a key offensive weapon all season long.
"He's someone I love to see go up to the plate, because I know he's going to give me a quality at bat, he's not going to chase anything," said Snitker. "He's a very disciplined hitter, he added a little pop to his bat from working out in the weight room and consistency is the key to this game. If you can be four out of 10 here, you're doing really well. He's done a really good job of being a good leadoff hitter for us, which is what we need."
The Tigers have now won two in a row and hope to carry that momentum into some tough games coming up. St. James played a rescheduled game against Owensville on Tuesday, but results from that game were not available at press time. They'll continue a stretch in the Four Rivers Conference with a trip to Hermann on Thursday, before two more conference games next week.
"I told them before the game that I'd like to win more than one in a row," said coach Snitker. "It's been nice to see them come out on top the last couple of games and we've got a tough Owensville game and conference play really starts kicking in tomorrow, Thursday and next week. Hopefully the hitting continues and we can keep pitching the baseball."