The St. James baseball hit the road for a Four Rivers Conference matchup on Thursday, April 11. After a shaky start, the Tigers were able to mount a seventh inning comeback for a conference victory.
The Tigers were able to strike first with a run in the top of the third, but they ran into some trouble in the bottom of the frame. Hermann was able to take advantage of a couple of St. James errors in the inning, before the exclamation point of a three run home run from Trent Anderson gave the Bearcats a 4-1 lead.
St. James started to whittle away at that lead right away. Lucas Bahr hit a home run of his own in the top of the fourth, before Andrew Branson launched a two run shot in the fifth to tie the game at four.
The Tigers were able to retake the lead in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Trey Riley, but that lead was short-lived, as Hermann punched back with two runs of their own in bottom of the inning. An error again opened up the door for Hermann to add to their lead in the inning. St. James refused to let that Hermann comeback end the game and they came out swinging in the top of the seventh.
Bahr opened up the inning with a walk, before a single from Dyllan Gibson. Lyndon Carson then drew a walk to set the stage for a pinch hit RBI single for Nolan Bell. Rustin Branum followed with an RBI on his third hit of the game, before Riley walked to drive in a third run to complete the comeback.
Branum came in to close the game on the mound, relieving Branson after six innings of work. Branum walked two batters, but kept Hermann off the scoreboard to earn an 8-6 victory for the Tigers.
Branson was a big player on the mound and at the plate. He pitched six innings and allowed six runs, one of which was unearned. Branson allowed nine hits, walked two and stuck out five. He was able to limit a lot of damage and avoid letting errors but St. James too much behind the eight ball. Head coach Shannon Snitker appreciated his mindset on the mound.
"He does a really good job of focusing pitch to pitch and not letting any distractions bother him," said the St. James head coach. "He's just going to go out and keep doing his job and obviously that the consistency you want out of all your baseball players. He does a really good job."
Branson added two hits, a double and a home run, to go along with two RBI and a run scored at the dish. Bahr was 2-3 with a home run and a walk, scoring twice in the win. Branum was 4-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and a steal. Riley had a hit and drew a walk, driving in a pair. As a team, St. James racked up 13 base hits in the win. While coach Snitker has loved the way the top of the lineup has mashed the ball recently, he's particularly impressed that the bottom of the lineup was able to lead St. James to victory late against Hermann.
"That's going to be key," said coach Snitker of getting big hits at the bottom of the lineup. "The top of our lineup has hit the ball really well all season, one through four or five. Once you start getting six, seven, eight and nine, it's taken them a little while to get going here but we had some real quality at bats."
After going 2-1 last week, the Tigers have another busy week coming up. St. James will host Union on Monday, before a trip to Belle Tuesday. The Tigers will then have another conference game with a trip to St. Clair on Thursday. Coach Snitker hopes this win can help the Tigers get into a good rhythm before another important week in conference play.
"That's what I keep talking to them about: being consistent and getting some momentum," said coach Snitker.