The St. James baseball team faced off against Cuba for their regular season finale on Monday, May 6. The Tigers celebrated their seniors in style, as they used two big innings and a series of excellent pitching performances to mash their way to a 9-0 win in their final tune up before kicking off Districts this weekend.
The Tiger offense started to find their rhythm in the third inning. St. James went off for four runs in the inning thanks to an RBI single by Drew Moritz, followed by an RBI double by Dyllan Gibson. Lyndon Carson drove in a run on a groundout, before a fourth run came across as Trey Riley reached on an error.
After a quiet fourth inning, St. James tacked on their fifth run of the game on an error. They then added an RBI single from Tyler Teague, before another big inning in the sixth. After a single by Derek Skaggs and a double by Drew Moritz, Lucas Bahr drove in a run on a ground out. Gibson followed with his second RBI of the game, before advancing to second on a balk. After a walk by Carson, the runners again advanced on a balk.. That put Gibson on third, where he was able to score on a straight steal of home. That pushed St. James' lead out to 9-0.
While the Tiger bats were getting the job done at the plate, a stable of pitchers was absolutely dealing on the mound. St. James used a different pitcher every inning and only allowed three base runners all game. Cuba managed just one hit off the Tiger pitching staff, which came off Skaggs, while Teague walked a pair. Rustin Branum and Gibson each had hitless innings with two strikeouts, while Dylan Hopper, Moritz and Carson each struck out a batter in their hitless frame. Teague earned the win on the mound for St. James.
"My whole goal coming into it was that we hadn't played baseball since the previous Monday in Waynesville, so I was trying to get everybody a competitive inning of work, so it wasn't just throwing a bullpen in the gym or at the baseball field," said head coach Shannon Snitker on the decision to throw out seven pitchers. "I was pleased with the effort, obviously when you throw a shutout with seven different guys. They bought in."
Gibson had an explosive game all around on his Senior Night, racking up four hits, driving in two runs and scoring three times. He's been a big part of the lineup since joining the team this season and he had a chance to showcase that again on Monday.
"I'm just happy he came back out and decided to play this year," said Snitker on Gibson. "He's just done a really good job of doing anything I've asked him to do. He hits in the four hole, where he gets every pitcher's best pitch and he's got his average up to .475 or something crazy like that. He's starting to drive in a bunch of runs, having really good at bats, throws well on the mound, plays anywhere I put him on the infield. When you have guys like that, it makes it pretty easy as a coach."
Moritz added two hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Skaggs also had two hits and scored twice. St. James collected 11 hits as a team in the win.
Coach Snitker was glad he had the chance to celebrate his seniors with a great win on Senior Night.
"I think they do a really good job of trying to lead our baseball team the right way," said the Tiger head coach. "This is the first group of kids that's been with me through the years and I think they kind of bought into the program and did a great job of leading."
It was also nice for the Tigers to have a big game without one of their best players out on the field. Andrew Branson had the day off as he works through some back pain and the St. James offense stayed hot without their leadoff man. Coach Snitker thought it was a big confidence booster for his players to see that they can produce without one of their most consistent bats in the lineup.
"That's huge. For the last eight to 10 games, it's just been kind of plug and play. Everyone I've put in wherever has contributed in some way, shape or form," said Snitker. "That's just the benefit of having enough guys that if someone is hurt or whatever, they can step in , because they've played enough with some confidence throughout the season that they can help you."
The Tigers earned the second seed in the District, so they'll be off in the first round. They will face the winner between Salem and Buffalo on Saturday, May 11 at 2:00.