Comeback attempt falls short for Saints in districts

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

In the first round of the Class 3 District 15 tournament, the Saint Paul Lutheran High School Saints baseball team traveled to Lee’s Summit for a matchup with a familiar foe come playoff time, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School Guardians. Despite a slim lead early on and a comeback attempt late in the game, the Saints would ultimately fall to the Guardians, 7-5.

One would think that after the way the Guardians’ basketball season in March (a tremendous 59-58 Saints victory at the buzzer in the second round of the Class 3 State Tournament) they would have wanted to strike first, but the Saints opened up the scoring in the first inning when sophomore Justin Griffith — the Saint to sink the game-winning shot at the buzzer in the aforementioned basketball game — drew a one-out walk. He eventually moved to second (balk) and third (wild pitch) before a two-out single from senior Aaron Kirby drove him in.

The score would advance to 2-0 in the third inning when Griffith picked up a leadoff single. Griffith would then steal second base before a double from Kirby drove him in.

Tides would turn drastically when the Guardians picked up four runs in the bottom of the third inning, and would collect another pair in the bottom of the fourth inning, running the tally to 6-2.

The top of the fifth inning found the Saints chipping into the margin, as senior Micah Lemmons would lead off the inning with a double. Kirby would then get plunked by a pitch, and junior Josiah Kunkel would drive in Lemmons with a single to the right side. Kirby would score soon after, knocking the lead down to 6-4.

STMC would pick up another run in the bottom of the fifth inning and scoring would halt until the seventh inning, but a comeback looked possible for the Saints.

Down 7-4, Lemmons (single) and Kirby (walk) reached base and advanced to third and second bases, respectively, on a wild pitch. Kunkel would ground out, but Lemmons would score on the play. The next two batters couldn’t keep the line moving however, ending the game and the Saints’ season, 7-5.

The Saints didn’t go down without a fight: Kunkel went 3-4 with a pair of RBIs, while Kirby drew a walk and was hit by a pitch, in addition to a single and a double and two RBIs. Lemmons went 2-4 with two runs scored and a double, as well. The Saints struck out just five times over the seven innings.

As a team, errors killed the Saints’ chances, as they committed eight. Only two of the seven runs allowed were earned. Saints pitchers also combined to allow just seven hits and four walks.

The Saints season ends at 8-14.

St. Michael advanced with the victory before falling in the next round to Summit Christian Academy. Their season ended with a 10-10 record.

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