Tough start for Saints baseball
With nearly the entirety of the season still in front of them, the Saint Paul Lutheran High School Saints baseball team dropped a few close games before picking up their first victory on the year. It wasn’t an ideal start for the Saints, losers of five of their first six contests, but notable improvements can already be seen, suggesting to Saints fans that the ship should be righted sooner rather than later.
Friday, March 22 — Nonconference — SPLHS
Lafayette Co. 11
The season started off slowly for the Saints, as their home-opener saw just one Saint (junior Josiah Kunkel) get a base-hit coupled with five walks drawn (senior Micah Lemmons with two, one apiece for seniors Micah Lemmons and Aidin Muehler, junior Luke Roepe, and sophomore Peyton Arnold) en route to the 11-1 loss to Lafayette County (Higginsville) High School.
Three pitchers combined to allow seven earned runs. Saints pitchers as a unit allowed nine walks and six hits.
The Saints fall to 0-1 (0-0) with the loss, while it was the fourth game on Lafayette County’s season. They moved to 3-1 in victory.
Saturday, March 23 — Nonconference — Cole Camp High School
Knob Noster 6
In the first of their two games on March 23, one inning proved to be too much for the Saints to overcome, falling to Knob Noster High School in the neutral-site contest, 6-3.
The Saints took the first lead of the game in the top of the third inning when senior Micah Lemmons drove sophomore Justin Griffith in on a single, but the Panthers would roar in the bottom of the same inning, scoring all six of their runs in the frame.
The Saints would immediately answer back with a run in the top of the fourth and fifth innings each, but the damage was already done, and the Panthers would hold on for victory.
It was an undeniably better offensive performance for Saints hitters, with senior Micah Lemmons (3-4, one RBI) and junior Josiah Kunkel (2-2, one walk) leading the charge.
The Saints fell to 0-2 (0-0) with the loss. Knob Noster advanced to 2-3 with the victory.
Saturday, March 23 — Nonconference — Cole Camp HS
Cole Camp 18
Despite a mild score heading into the third inning, the Cole Camp High School Bluebirds went crazy in the back-half of the Saints’ second game on March 23, eventually skipping home from the neutral-site matchup with the 18-2 victory.
A leadoff walk from junior Luke Roepe followed by a Cole Camp error on sophomore Justin Griffith put runners in scoring position, and the Saints executed, driving in both to take the 2-0 lead.
They would give a run back in the bottom of the first, but the score would remain until a 13-run third inning effectively silenced the Saints. Bluebirds hitters would add four more runs in the top of the fourth before the mercy rule was implemented following the Saints final at-bat of the fourth.
Five different Saints logged hits, with Griffith reaching base three times total (reached on error, walk and hit). Junior Avery Johnson was hit by a pitch in two separate at-bats, eventually stealing a base as well.
A whopping 17 walks were administered by Saints pitchers, while they also tossed eight strikeouts and allowed seven hits.
The loss drops SPLHS down to 0-3 (0-0) after their first three games. Cole Camp team advanced to 3-0 with the win.
Monday, March 25 — I-70 Conference — SPLHS
A solid comeback fell just flat in the Saints I-70 Conference opener, as a seventh inning run would doom the Saints in their matchup with Wellington-Napoleon High School, falling 4-3.
Three Tigers runs would score in the first two innings, but the Saints tied the score in the fourth inning when senior Aidin Muehler and juniors Jonathon Grass and Avery Johnson scored, taking advantage of sloppy defensive work and good situational hitting.
The score would hold until the top of the seventh inning, when a sacrifice fly drove in the eventual game-winning run.
Two Saints pitchers — Grass and junior Aaron Kirby — combined for seven strikeouts and six walks in the contest, allowing four hits total.
Twenty-one runners total were left on base, with WellNap stranding eight compared to 13 left on by the Saints.
Despite the tight contest, the Saints fell to 0-4 (0-1) with the loss. Wellington-Napoleon moved to 1-2 (0-1) with the victory.
Tuesday, March 26 — I-70 Conference — SPLHS
Hits were at a premium when the Saints took on crosstown rival Concordia High School. The Saints were no-hit while holding the Orioles’ high-powered offense to just three hits, but they would be enough for Concordia to take a 2-0 victory.
The Saints were down to their final out before breaking up a perfect game bid from Orioles senior Matthew Gatewood. Senior Micah Lemmons would reach on an error and junior Aaron Kirby got plunked immediately after, but the game would ultimately end when the ensuing batter went down swinging.
Junior Josiah Kunkel was dealing for the Saints. He struck out nine over his completegame, hitting two batters and allowing three hits — all doubles off the bat of junior Brayden McGinnis.
SPLHS fell to 0-5 (0-2) despite the impressive showing against one of the state’s top-ranked teams. Concordia moved to 6-0 (3-0) with the victory.
Wednesday, March 27 — I-70 Conference — Sweet Springs HS
Sweet Springs 0
The Saints were able to get themselves into the win column for the first time of the season when they traveled to Sweet Springs High School for a rendezvous with the Greyhounds. An early run gave them the advantage, and a late run provided some breathing room as the Saints would put away the ballgame, 2-0.
The Saints kicked scoring off in the top of the second inning when junior Jonathon Grass turned a one-out walk into an eventual run when sophomore Peyton Arnold cracked a two-out single.
After a few stagnant innings from both squads, the Saints would jump out to a two-run lead when, in the sixth inning, junior Josiah Kunkel singled to left, eventually reaching second base on an error and scoring on a two-out single from Grass. The 2-0 advantage would hang true, and the Saints would complete the shutout for their first win of the season.
Senior Micah Lemmons was a nasty man from the mound, giving up just three hits and two walks in the complete game shutout. He struck out 15 ‘Hounds, which translates to recording all but six outs via punch-out.
The win not only puts SPLHS in the winner’s seat for the first time of the season, but also of the I-70 Conference season as the Saints move to 1-5 (1-2) in victory. Sweet Springs fell to 0-2 (0-2) with the loss.