Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Borgia baseball Knights appear to have recently rejuvenated themselves.
Borgia (7-4) came back with two big wins this week, taking road victories at Wright City Tuesday (19-2) and Windsor Wednesday (8-5).
That extended a winning streak to three games and showed that the Knights are ready to put the early-season woes behind them.
Head Coach Rob Struckhoff was not happy with what he saw in his team early in the season and one of the games which got away from the Knights was a 10-3 loss at Wright City in the Four Rivers Classic consolation bracket March 31.
On Tuesday, the Knights returned for a second contest.
“We came to Wright City with a mission to show what kind of team we really have this year,” Struckhoff said. “They beat us 10 days ago and we weren’t about to let that happen again. We played extremely well in all phases of the game. I was very proud of the team after this performance. If we bring this kind of attitude and focus to every game, we’ll be hard to beat.”
Offensively, Struckhoff said Borgia was able to hit Wright City’s top two pitchers in the game.
“We had production up and down the order,” said Struckhoff. “They threw their top two pitchers early so I was very happy with the at-bats we took.”
Struckhoff pointed out the contributions of a number of different players.
“Grant (Eckelkamp) continues to get things started at the top,” Struckhoff said. “He’s been phenomenal getting on base. Trent (Leimkuehler), Matt (Jones), Noah (Borgerding) and Jack (Kopmann) also had big hits in the middle of the order. Alex Jasper also stayed hot with a couple hits and RBIs.” Struckhoff said a number of reserves also stepped up.
“We also had contributions from guys off the bench like Justin Ladig, Jacob Haskins, Michael Kren and Sam Deschenes,” Struckhoff said. “Sam just got released to start playing again and we look forward to getting him back in condition.”
Brendan Kleekamp got the start for the Knights and was the winning pitcher.
“He wasn’t totally sharp with all his pitches, but he had enough to be successful,” Struckhoff said. “He’s still getting a feel for everything this spring and I expect his best by districts. Trent came in at the end and finished up. He looked good out there and I can tell he’s getting more comfortable on the hill.”
Borgia’s rebirth continued Wednesday with an 8-5 win on the road at Windsor in Jefferson County.
Borgia took an early 2-0 lead, but fell behind 3-2 in the late innings.
However, the Knights scored four times in the sixth and added two more runs in the seventh to win the game.
“We talked during the game about being a team that can come back in any situation,” Struckhoff said. “We needed a game like this. It’s always fun to win close ones. Windsor’s record doesn’t show how good a team they have. They have played a very tough schedule of large schools. They really hit the ball well, but we came up with the big plays when we needed to.”
The Knights scored their eight runs on just five hits in the game.
“We made the most of our opportunities,” Struckhoff said. “Sam Deschenes and Brendan Kleekamp executed a double steal with Brendan stealing home in the first inning. Austin Rettke laid down two sacrifice bunts, including a big squeeze bunt in the seventh to give us a needed insurance run. We aren’t always going to pound away at teams so we need to be able to play small ball at times, especially against a good pitcher. Tony Helfrich also had a big RBI double in the sixth and Matt Jones got the seventh started with double.”
Helfrich pitched six innings and earned the win for Borgia.
“It seemed like they always had guys on base and he kept working out of jams,” Struckhoff said. “Austin made some nice plays at second and Tony fielded his position well to keep them out of big innings. Matt Jones also threw out two base stealers to help the cause.
In the seventh, Brendan Feldmann came in to close out the game.
“Brendan Feldmann finished the seventh, but not before Windsor gave us a scare,” Struckhoff said. “They had a two-run home run and eventually loaded the bases before Brendan got a strikeout to finish it.”