Clay catcher Josh Utter waits for the throw as St. John's player JJ Miller scores from second.
On a cold and extremely windy evening, the harsh weather elements made for a wild City League baseball game at St. John’s Jesuit.
A combined 19 runs (eight unearned) were scored on 12 hits, 12 walks and six errors.
So, it was perhaps fitting that a Titans mistake enabled Clay to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning, and an Eagles error in the bottom half allowed St. John’s to take a 10-9 victory Friday night.
Jeff Sheehy led off the Titans’ seventh by reaching second on Clay third baseman Tyler Stoldt’s throwing error. Ben Nevers’ sacrifice bunt sent Sheehy to third, and Jimmy Scott’s grounder to second brought him home with the winning run.
“I told the kids I think the reason we won that game is because we wanted it more than they did,” St. John’s coach D.J. Eckhart said of surviving Clay’s rally and the elements. “We went down early to a very good team and it would have been easy for our younger team to fold up shop, and that was the farthest thing from what we did.”
Titans junior lefty Jesse Adams battled his way through seven innings, surviving eight walks to prevail and push his mound record to 3-0.
“It was a real dogfight and we’re young, but we showed some effort and intensity through that last inning,” said Adams, who said he was able to block out the weather. “I guess once you’re in the groove you just don’t notice that kind of stuff. But those were the worst conditions I’ve ever pitched in.”
The biggest blows of the games were delivered by St. John’s junior first baseman Nate Pearson.
The burly hard-hitting lefty lined an opposite-field RBI double to the left-field corner in the third inning when the Titans (5-2, 3-0 CL) tied the game, then rocketed a three-run double to the same spot in the fourth when his team took an 8-3 lead.
“I just had to look for some fastballs, find my pitch and whack it,” Pearson said. “A lot of people know I’m a pull hitter, so I had to challenge myself to hit the ball to the left side of the field today with this wind.”
Clay (4-4, 2-1), the preseason CL favorite, had grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of an RBI single from Jesse Castilleja and an RBI groundout from Eagles starting pitcher Ross Achter.
After allowing eight unanswered runs, Clay battled back with two runs in the fifth, three in the sixth, and one more in the seventh.
The tying run came after Adams appeared to strike out Josh Utter for the game’s final out. But Titans catcher Corey Tipton was unable to handle the third strike, and Utter was safe at first.
After pinch-runner Jake Bedra stole second, Clay’s Sam Berry delivered a clutch infield single on a grounder up the middle. Bedra scored when second baseman Scott dived for the ball and tried to throw Berry out at first. That created enough time for Bedra to dash home safely.
Achter allowed eight runs on five hits in four innings, but Clay errors made six of those runs unearned. Castilleja, who relieved in the fifth, took the loss.
“Not having timely hitting and giving them runs on errors doesn’t help,” Clay coach Gary Isbell said. “You make mistakes against good teams and it’s going to come back and haunt you. Today it did.
“I was very impressed with St. John’s attitude as a team. They’re a very aggressive team and they’re going to win a lot of games this year. But our kids are going to battle and compete. We’ve lost four games, and all by one run.”
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com or 419-724-6461.