St. Clair had Union seeing red Friday in the Class 4 District 3 baseball quarterfinals at Pacific.
Both teams were wearing their red uniforms, but it was St. Clair pitcher Mason Dodson who frustrated Union batters with a complete game one-hit shutout as St. Clair (7-14-1) eliminated the Wildcats (11-13), 4-0.
The Bulldogs, seeded last in the district, knocked off the No. 3 seed Union after the Wildcats defeated St. Clair, 11-1, earlier in the season in league play.
St. Clair scored the first run in the top of the third and then added three more in the fourth inning by applying pressure on the basepaths.
“We got out and we like to run a little bit and put pressure on them,” St. Clair Head Coach Mitch Lundy said. “We’ve got a couple of athletic kids.”
Dodson struck out seven and walked four across seven innings to complete the shutout.
Union opted to hold back ace pitcher Jacob Fleming for a potential semifinal game against the No. 2 seed, St. Francis Borgia Regional.
“I looked at it as Trevor threw against Borgia earlier in the year and lost,” Union Head Coach Ryan Bailey said. “If we were going to beat Borgia, we needed Jake to pitch that game and we thought with the other guys we had to pitch tonight, we could beat St. Clair. We gave up four runs tonight and we didn’t score any. It’s nothing with our pitching, it’s our offense.”
Fleming instead started at shortstop, where he was charged with two of the Wildcats’ five errors.
While Union racked up five errors, the Bulldogs had none.
“That’s important in baseball and we did a really good job of that and we were focused the whole time,” Lundy said. “That was nice to see.”
Trevor Kelly started on the mound for Union and all four runs were scored against him, though none were earned. Kelly threw four innings, allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
“I think the main thing was that we just had some errors that gave them some life,” Bailey said. “I thought Trevor Kelly pitched OK. He’s going to get hit, but we talked at the start of the year that we needed to play good defense when we had guys out there besides Jake Fleming pitching. I just thought tonight there were a couple of errors, a couple of errant throws that maybe weren’t errors but we had outs out there. There was a little pickle between first and second that we gave an out away and that cost us a run.”
Blake Griffin pitched 2.1 innings and gave up three hits with one strikeout.
Fleming was called in to pitch with one out in the top of the seventh inning, inheriting a runner on third base. He recorded a strikeout and then induced a ground ball to get out of the jam.
Landen Roberts and Johnny Kindel picked up two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.
Dodson, Timmy Hoffman, Bailey Smith and Wesley Hinson each recorded one hit.
Kindel and Dodson had the only two extra base hits of the game, both doubles.
Roberts and Michael Hughes each reached on a walk.
Brady Branscum was credited with one run batted in.
Smith stole two bases. Clay Banderman and Cole Venable each stole one.
Andrew Bruner had the only Union hit, a ground-ball single in the hole between third and short in the seventh inning.
Jake Kleekamp was hit by a pitch. Avery Morrow, Eli Klenke, Caleb Mabe and Bruner each drew a walk.
Mabe and Bruner each stole a base.
St. Clair scored what would prove to be the decided run in the third after Smith reached on an error. A pickoff throw from the catcher Morrow to Mabe at first base seemingly had Smith caught in a rundown, but Smith was able to steal second on the play.
Roberts then singled to left field with Smith scoring without a throw due to the second Union error.
Hoffman led off the fourth inning with a single and moved up to second base on an error. Another error then allowed Hoffman to move up to third as Clay Banderman reached first.
“Timmy Hoffman can really move and he can take advantage of a couple miscues when he’s focused and he’s going hard and he did that tonight,” Lundy said.
Kelly then struck out Branscum, but a dropped third strike forced Morrow to throw to first for the out and Hoffman scored.
Banderman advanced from first to third on the dropped third strike and the ensuing return throw to the plate.
Smith then laid down a squeeze bunt, scoring Banderman from third. Smith reached first on the third Union error of the inning.
“I trust him to get that down,” Lundy said. “I know that we’ve struggled to score runs. When he’s at the plate, I’m confident that he’ll get that down and we took advantage of it and got a run across the board.”
Hinson’s single advanced Smith to third with just one out. Hinson was then caught stealing at second, but the throw allowed Smith to score what turned out to be the final run of the night.
“That was a great read on his part — I didn’t send him,” Lundy said. “He just read that and he took off. Bailey’s come a long way. He’s just a great competitor and I trust that kid all the time. He’s getting better and better in right field and he’s made some really good baserunning plays for us too.”
St. Clair advanced to Saturday’s district semifinals where Borgia ended the Bulldogs season with a come-from-behind 6-5 win.