It was a busy week for the St. James American Legion baseball team, as they hosted two doubleheaders and won two doubleheaders this past week.
First to pay a visit to St. James was the Lake Crystal Legion team on Thursday night. The Lake Crystal high school baseball team beat SJA this spring, but this time Legion Post 33 swept Lake Crystal by scores of 6-2 and 7-1.
Sam Carlson pitched for the St. James boys in game one and was dominant. He went all seven innings, gave up no earned runs and struck out 13. He scattered four hits over the course of the game.
Carlson also helped himself at the plate by smacking a run scoring double in the bottom of the first to stake St. James to a 1-0 lead. He went 2 for 3 at the plate and also had a sacrifice. Second baseman John Olsen knocked in two RBIs on a bases loaded single in the third.
The Legion team had a hard time getting hits and scoring runs in the first few games of the season, but bats came out against Lake Crystal.
Coach Tim Pinke had a good problem in that he joked, “We’re going to have to learn how to play when we are in the lead.”
Post 33 had five runs on the scoreboard before they touched Carlson for a couple of unearned runs in the sixth inning.
St. James got one of them back in the bottom of the inning to make the final score 6-2.
In the second game of the double header, St. James jumped on Lake Crystal for three runs in the first on the way to the 7-1 victory.
Zack Gleiter was hit by a pitch and Walker Froehling walked. They both scored along with Kyle Pinke for Post 33s three in the first runs.
Ryan Menssen, Pinke and Devin Wolle got the RBIs for St. James in that inning.
Froehling tossed another complete game for St. James. He struck out nine, walked one and gave up one earned run.
The two St. James pitchers over 14 innings struck out 22 and gave up just one earned run. That’s pretty dominant.
St. James added two in the fourth and two in the fifth. Lake Crystal got one in the fourth.
Gleiter was 2-2 with 2 runs scored. Carlson was 2-2 with 2 walks. Tyler Witcraft went 1 for 2 and had 2 RBIs.
On Monday, St. James hosted Welcome-Sherburn (WS) and won a pair. Post 33 won the first game 7-6 and the second game by a 9-2 score.
Page 2 of 3 - The first game was an extra inning affair that the Legion won on a steal of home plate by Tyler Witcraft that had a bit of skullduggery in it.
With the score knotted at six and with two outs, Witcraft singled. Wanting to end the game Coach Pinke called for a steal of second. The ball skipped past the second baseman into shallow centerfield and that allowed Witcraft to sprint to third beating the tag.
Man on third two outs. Zack Gleiter walked and with Legionnaires on first and third, Coach Pinke then called for an oldie but a goodie play.
The WS pitcher was in the stretch when Gleiter broke for second. He paused halfway between the bases, feigned a deer in the headlights look and baited the pitcher to throw to one of the infielders.
The pitcher took the bait, made the throw in an attempt to get Gleiter out and Witcraft broke for home. If Gleiter had been tagged out before Witcraft scored, the inning would have been over.
However, Zack stayed alive long enough to force the throw by WS to the plate. The throw didn’t come in time as Tyler slid under the tag with the winning run.
The game had ebb and flow to it. St. James broke out to an early 3-0 lead and Kyle Pinke went the first three innings giving up two unearned runs in the top of the third.
St. James got a run back in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-2, but WS added one in the fourth and the fifth.
St. James almost lost the game in the seventh as WS pushed two runs across. The key play was when St. James right field Devin Wolle, who has had a good spring defensively, dropped a can of corn that resulted in WS taking a two in the top of the seventh. If Wolle had caught the ball no runs would have scored.
Down to their last at bat, the Legion pushed a couple of runs across to keep the game alive for the ninth inning heroics.
Sam Carlson went 3-4 in the game with two RBIs, Witcraft went 2-4 with two RBIs, and Pinke went 2-4 including smacking a clutch hit that kept the seventh inning rally alive.
Legion Post 33 won the second game 9-2. Carlson was the starting pitcher and had a dominant performance striking out ten in the seven inning game. He gave up one earned run. He also went 3-4 at the plate with another two RBIs. Zach Brandts also went 3-4 and had three RBIs. Ryan Menssen got two hits.
Page 3 of 3 - Post 33 has another doubleheader tonight as they host USC-Wells. The first game is at 6 pm.