Borgia Head Coach Rob Struckhoff knew Monday’s Class 3 District 8 semifinals would be difficult.
And he was right on as fourth-seeded Fatima knocked out the Knights (19-8) in Fulton, 3-2.
“We definitely picked the wrong time to revert back to how we played to start the season,” Struckhoff said. “Too many costly errors and too little timely hitting cost us this game. Making these kind of mistakes will cost you and our players know it. The game was our’s for the taking and we didn’t get it done. To make four errors in this game after making only three the last 10 games is hard to understand. Hopefully our younger players learn from this.”
Struckhoff indicated both semifinals were going to be tough games.
“It’s like a mini-final four,” Struckhoff said. “We played Fatima and they were 16-7. The other semifinal was between North Callaway (20-4) and Blair Oaks (19-4). This is a pretty stacked district.”
Blair Oaks defeated North Callaway, 4-3, in Monday’s other semifinal.
Playing for the third time this season and the second time within a week, Borgia rolled past Owensville Saturday in the district opener in six innings, 10-0.
“We’re playing pretty well,” Struckhoff said. “Whenever you have a 1-8 game, it’s got the potential to be tough. You don’t want to look ahead, but we had beaten them twice this season. They’re 17- and 18-year-old kids. They have a tendency to look past. We need to stay focused. We did a good job of getting past them again.”
Struckhoff said Owensville opened the game with two hits, but that turned out to be the highlight for the Dutchmen.
“They got a bloop single just over first base and a bunt that Jack Kopmann dove and tried to catch,” Struckhoff said. “But, from there, Brendan Kleekamp got a strikeout and a double play and that was the biggest threat Owensville had.”
The Knights came back with three runs in the first, three in the third, three in the fourth and a final run in the bottom of the sixth to end it.
Kleekamp threw four innings, allowing three hits while striking out six. Brendan Feldmann pitched the final two innings, walking one and striking out five.
Offensively, Borgia had a number of standouts.
“We had contributions up and down the lineup,” Struckhoff said.
Trent Leimkuehler went 3-4 with three runs, an RBI and two stolen bases.
Noah Borgerding had three hits, one run, three RBIs and two stolen bases.
Alex Jasper posted three hits and two RBIs.
Grant Eckelkamp had two hits, a walk, two runs and two stolen bases.
Kopmann had one hit, one run and an RBI.
Austin Rettke had a hit, a walk and a run.
Matt Jones drove in a run, walked, sacrificed and was hit by a pitch.
Michael Kren scored twice and stole a base.
Tony Helfrich walked, sacrificed and drove in a run.
Struckhoff said the Knights got another great pitching effort from Helfrich.
“Tony Helfrich was outstanding once again on the mound,” Struckhoff said. “His only earned run was a solo home run in the second. Other than that one mistake, he was outstanding. He finished the season by giving up only one earned run in his last 24 innings. He deserved better.”
The game was tied 1-1 after one inning and Fatima took the lead again in the top of the second on the home run.
Struckhoff said Borgia had chances to score in the third and fifth innings, but couldn’t push runs across the plate but two close calls went against the Knights.
“Of course neither call went our way which seems to be a trend in the last few district tournaments,” Struckhoff said.
An error gave Fatima another run in the top of the seventh. That proved to be huge as Borgia pulled one back in the bottom of that inning.
Kleekamp led off with a single and Rettke moved both Kleekamp and Jasper up a base. Sam Deschenes singled home Kleekamp.
Borgia went for a squeeze play, but the pitch was high and Eckelkamp was fortunate to foul it. Fatima was able to close out the game with Jasper still on third.
“Although the game was a huge disappointment, the season was incredible,” Struckhoff said. “We won 15 of our last 19 games and earned a No. 1 seed in our district. We had a great group of seniors and have a tremendous junior class coming back. Our coaching staff also did an outstanding job.”