The St. James baseball team faced off against Salem in the District Semifinal on Monday, May 13. The Tigers struggled to get into an offensive rhythm early and couldn't quite finish off a late comeback in a 5-4 loss.
It took St. James six innings to get on the board on Monday night and Salem was able to take advantage. Salem was able to string together a few hits in the third to knock in a pair of runs, before a three-run homer in the fifth put St. James behind the eight ball 5-0.
St. James was finally able to jump start things in the sixth. Four runs came across to score in the inning, as Lucas Bahr, Lyndon Carson, Derek Skaggs and Tyler Teague all drove in runs in the inning. Four runs left them one shy of Salem, but they had one more inning to try to complete the comeback. They were able to get some runners on in the seventh, but couldn't find that final big hit to extend their season and Salem walked away with a 5-4 victory to advance to the championship.
Head coach Shannon Snitker doesn't want to make any excuses, but the long break for the Tigers before Districts probably didn't do them any favors. St. James played their final regular season game a full week before their first District game, as weather pushed the game back from Saturday. With all that time off, they took a few innings too many to get their bats going.
"Part of it's rain and I know that's an excuse, but we hadn't seen live pitching since the Monday before," said coach Snitker. "Other than that, you face the other team's number one, so runs are going to be hard to get. I thought our kids did a great job after getting down five runs of staying in the baseball game and continuing to battle at the plate."
Dylan Hopper took the loss for St. James on the mound, pitching five innings. He surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on eight hits and two walks, while striking out five. Dyllan Gibson came in to relieve him, pitching two hit-less frames, while striking out a pair.
At the dish, Carson and Andrew Branson each had a pair of base knocks. Carson added an RBI, while Branson scored once and had St. James' lone steal. Bahr was 1-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk. Teague was also 1-3, while driving in a run.
St. James was led by a big group of seniors this year, many of which didn't come into the season with a ton of experience at the varsity level. Coach Snitker wishes he could've seen their final season last a little bit longer, but he's proud of what they were able to accomplish this year and over their careers.
"This is the first group that I've had for four years. I told them after the game that I appreciated them buying in," said the Tiger head coach. "I had never been a head coach before and ever since they were freshmen they did a really good job of buying in and trying to get better and work on fundamentals...this group has been a really good and solid mental group that stays focused, comes to work every day. They're really good examples for the younger guys."
The Tigers ended their season with a record of 13-7.