Andy Okuley, left, and Max Lyon (9) are greeted by St. Francis teammates after scoring against St. John's.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
Good team depth with contributions from five pitchers and the entire batting order sparked St. Francis de Sales to a win Monday over St. John's Jesuit.
Seniors Max Lyon and Michael Wagner each drove in two runs to lead the Knights to a 5-2 home victory. Senior starter Josh Williams threw four shutout innings and then a bullpen of four pitchers finished, including a save by Wagner.
“We will throw our whole roster at you and hopefully that's good enough,” St. Francis coach Tim Gerken said. “That's the makeup of our team. I have a lot of options. Right now we're pushing the right buttons and we're rolling with it.”
St. Francis improved to 19-1, 7-0 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference. St. John's (11-5, 4-2) outhit the Knights nine to seven.
The Knights held a 3-0 least in the fifth ining when they added two runs. Cody Lewis led off with a walk and Matt Zmuda followed with a single. Lyon then came up with a two-run double to make it 5-0.
“It's great to beat St. John's no matter what the situation is,” Lyon said. “It's great to come out and play good. It felt great to put us up by five. It put a little more distance between us. I was looking for the fastball, and I fired it right back up the middle.”
St. Francis led 1-0 entering the fourth when the Knights tacked on two more runs. After a walk and an error, Nick Lankard laid down a sacrifice bunt. Wagner then singled up the middle to score Lyon and Andy Okuley for a 3-0 Knights' cushion.
“I'm just doing my job there and it turned out for the best,” Wagner said. “This keeps momentum going. But we have to keep level heads. It's a great building block on the season we've put together so far. We just want to keep it going.”
St. John's ended the shutout in the seventh when the Titans scored their two runs. Alex Gum singled and Devon Garcia followed with a double. Gum scored on a fielder's choice and Garcia scored on pinch hitter Jordan Dirkman's sac fly. Wagner came in as the fifth reliever following Williams, Jake Lang, Kenzie Mayo, and Matt Zmuda to get the final out.
Gerken said has nine quality pitchers that average less than two walks per game with a 1.80 ERA.
“It makes it tough on your opponent because they get into a little bit of a rhythm [against the starter]. Then you see another good guy, it's a little tougher of a game,” he said. “When you have the people to go to it's a lot of fun. You count on your seniors and if it's not one, it's been another.”
The Knights broke through with a single run in the third. Joe White reached on an error and advanced to third on Eric Zmuda's single. White then scored on Lewis' sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, St. John's had back-to-back two out singles but Williams got a ground out to strand both runners.
Each pitcher benefited from key double plays over the first two innings. The Knights turned two with one runner on in the third. The Titans also ended a St. Francis' threat in the first with a double play. St. John's starter Nolan Silberhorn struck out five.
The Titans stranded three runners over the first three innings, while St. Francis left four on base. The Titans had two runners on with one out in the second, but Williams got a fielders' choice and a pop out to get out of the inning.
“Our approaches early in the game weren't very good and they did a great job with their approach,” St. John's coach Greg Christian said. “We had some early chances … but we took big swings. They executed when they need to. But our kids play hard. We're young and we're working hard. I’m happy with where we are at.”