St. James pulled off a stunner Wednesday on the baseball diamond.
The Tigers (4-12, 1-3) ended Pacific’s 27-game Four Rivers Conference winning streak, knocking off the Indians at St. James High School, 10-5.
“It’s been 15 years since we’ve beaten Pacific. The last time we beat them was my senior year in 1998. We won 16-11 in the Four Rivers Tournament against them. They won the actual conference game against us later that year,” said St. James Head Coach Marty Hauck. “It was a huge win for us. We’ve been right on the edge of winning several games in the past week-and-a-half and just haven’t put a full game together.”
While the loss was tough for Pacific to take, Indians Head Coach Jeff Reed appreciates the success his teams have had in the past against conference opponents.
“I’m awfully proud of having a 27-game conference winning streak. That’s something you just don’t see very often,” Reed said. “A lot of players were involved in that winning streak. They did a great job over the last few years working hard to win those games. Our goal now is to put together another winning streak.”
St. James jumped to a 4-0 lead with four runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Pacific (6-4, 3-1) responded with two runs in the top of the third inning and single tallies in the fourth and fifth to tie the game, 4-4.
The Tigers answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the lead for good, 6-4.
The Indians finished their scoring with a run in the top of the sixth.
St. James put the game away with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“The turning point was the fifth inning. We tied the game 4-4 in the top of the inning and then in the bottom half, (Jake) Ford hit a home run. It wasn’t a bad pitch. He’s probably their best hitter and did a good job going with the pitch and hitting it out to right field. Things just snowballed from there. We made some defensive mistakes and the little things added up.”
Zach Dean got the start on the mound for St. James and earned the win. In 5.1 innings, he allowed five runs, two earned, on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Brenn Bartz worked the final 1.2 frames. He allowed no runs on one hit with no walks and one strikeout.
Pacific used three pitchers in the game, two sophomores and a freshman.
Drew Fonner, a sophomore, started on the mound and did not register an out. He allowed four runs on one hit with three walks.
“They had an infield hit and three walks to start the game, which led to four runs,” Reed said. “I guess it’s my fault for starting a young kid and putting that kind of pressure on him.”
Lucas Zurliene, a freshman, pitched five innings in relief and suffered the loss. He allowed four runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Ryan Howell, a sophomore, pitched one inning. He allowed two runs on two hits with one walk.
“Zurliene threw the ball pretty well,” Reed said. “He didn’t deserve the loss.”
Ford reached base three times for St. James with the home run and two walks, to go with three runs.
Zack Russell and Nathan Strait both added two hits. Austin Gibson, Justin Ray, Elye Rogers, Troy Parker and Dean each added one hit. Parker had three RBIs.
“It took a full team of doing their jobs to beat Pacific. They are a very good team with a tradition that we are trying to work toward,” Hauck said. “Our kids were excited to be in the game and winning it throughout. They didn’t want to let go of that feeling and momentum. We stayed focused for all seven innings. That’s what we knew it would take to beat them and end the streak.”
Allen Fitzgerald and Eain Roberts both had two hits for Pacific. Roberts scored two runs. Tanner Brown, Jake Null, Tyler Straatmann and Howell each added one hit.
“A couple of our guys had decent days at the plate, but we just tried to pull everything. I can’t tell you how many assists their shortstop had,” Reed said. “We’re young in a lot of spots. We’re looking for some leadership. We have three seniors, all who are quiet kids. Two of our juniors, Tanner and Hank (Vandaveer), are trying to be vocal leaders, but it’s tough for two guys to do it. We just have to continue to work at getting better.”