Despite being outhit and trailing for part of the game, Pacific found a way past St. Clair in the opening round of the Class 4 District 4 Baseball Tournament.
The fourth-seeded Indians (10-8) advanced with a 9-6 victory over the fifth-seeded Bulldogs Saturday at Ronsick Field in Washington.
“We were down 3-0 right off the bat. It seems like it was that way a lot this year. At least our kids showed a lot of heart and battled back,” said Pacific Head Coach Jeff Reed. “It wasn’t pretty, but all you want to do is advance.”
St. Clair outhit Pacific 13-5, but the Indians took advantage of four errors by the Bulldogs.
“The game was back and forth. In the end, we simply made too many errors and mistakes. We had plays that should have been made and we cost ourselves a close game,” said St. Clair Head Coach Rob Hauck. “Pacific is a good young team and they played well. They put pressure on us and took advantage of what we gave them.”
Tyler Straatmann got the start on the mound for Pacific in a no-decision. In 4.1 innings, he allowed six runs on 11 hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Austin Muich, a freshman, finished the game with 2.2 scoreless innings to earn the win. He allowed two hits and registered two strikeouts.
“Austin did an outstanding job in relief. He came in the game in a tight situation and got us out of it,” Reed said. “We’ve had a lot of younger players make contributions, which is good for the future of Pacific baseball.”
Brenden Murphy pitched the entire game for the Bulldogs and was hurt by defensive mistakes. In six innings, he allowed nine unearned runs on five hits with five walks, three hit batters and four strikeouts.
St. Clair (6-17) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning before Pacific countered with two runs in the bottom of the first.
It was back-and-forth from there.
Pacific scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 9-6 lead.
Tanner Brown (double), Eain Roberts (double), Hank Vandaveer, James Howie and Straatmann each had one hit for Pacific.
Vandaveer also walked and scored two runs. Roberts and Straatmann both had one RBI and one run. Brown added one RBI. Howie scored a run.
Ryan Howell scored two runs and had one RBI. Jake Null had one walk, one RBI and one run. Allen Fitzgerald walked twice. Alex Rice scored a run.
Blake Dierking (one double) and Greg Marler both were 3-4 at the plate for the Bulldogs. Dierking added two RBIs. Marler scored two runs and had one RBI.
Austin Gotway reached base three times with two hits and a walk to go with two runs.
Ben Feddersen and Kody Halmich both added one hit and one RBI. Ayden Carey had one hit and one walk. Murphy had one hit and one run. Jake Oermann had one hit.
“We came out aggressive and really put pressure on them. We scored three runs in the first inning and gained a lot of confidence that we needed to get on them,” Hauck said. “Unfortunately, we made an error and had some walks to let them get momentum.”
St. Clair’s six seniors were Gotway, Dierking, Murphy, Marler, Carey and Anna Reed.
“We’ll miss our seniors and wish them the best as they take the next step in their lives,” Hauck said.
Pacific lost to top-seeded Westminster Monday in the semifinals 10-0 in five innings.
The Wildcats (28-3) broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the third inning, increasing their lead to 8-0.
“Up and down the lineup, that team can swing it,” Reed said. “They had a good guy on the mound. It wasn’t their ace, but he threw three pitches for strikes and pounded the zone. It makes it tough. We tried to compete, but didn’t make enough contact.”
Vandaveer pitched the first 2.2 innings and suffered the loss. He allowed eight runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Muich and Howell pitched in relief.
“Hank did all right. He left some balls out over the plate and they capitalized on them. It was the best I’ve seen him use three pitches early on,” Reed said. “When Muich was out there, our pitcher and catcher both were freshmen. We had a lot of youth on the field. There are good things coming for Pacific baseball.”
Roberts (double), Vandaveer and Howie each had one hit for Pacific.
Davis Vanderslice pitched all five innings for Westminster. He allowed no runs on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Shane Benes led the Wildcats at the plate with three hits, including a home run.
Pacific’s two seniors were Brandon Colter and Null.
“I wish some of my other kids had Brandon Colter’s heart. He loves baseball and loves to compete. Jake gives you his best every day,” Reed said. “It hurts that we’re losing them, but we have a lot coming back.”