Ten run third inning sparks Saints past Madelia in Opening Day victory

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Thursday afternoon under a rainy and cloudy sky, the St. James Area baseball team used a 10-run third inning to knock off the Madelia Blackhawks 12-1 in an inter-Watonwan County matchup on Opening Day.

Connor Jones got the Opening Day start for the Saints, and despite early command issues leading to a Blackhawk run in the first, and a bases-loaded situation in the second, Jones settled down in his third and final inning of work, striking out three after a leadoff error by the Saints. 

Jones plunked two and walked three in the opening frame, allowing Dylan Greu to score the game's first run. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jones struck out Jacob Peterson to work his way out of self-induced danger.

In the bottom half, St. James evened up the game on a Jones steal of home. 

With two outs in the inning, Tanner Olson took off for second, thinking the count was 3-2. As Olson attempted to scramble back to first, Jones took advantage of an errant throw to first by Blackhawks catcher Logan Slater. Michael Suarez popped out to leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the first for the Saints.

In the top half of the second, Madelia once again loaded the bases, but Jones struck out Jordan Koberoski looking to retire the side.

The Saints grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the second on an RBI groundout by Alex Stresemann to score Jack Westman.

In the third, Jones worked around a leadoff error to strike out the next three batters, showing more control than in the previous two innings.

"He was really missing high a lot and I think he was too stiff standing up and wasn't bending," said head coach Landis Froehling. "But he came back and pitched well at the end. The first inning was his toughest inning and I would have liked to have gotten another inning out of him."

Jones finished with 3.0 IP, 7 K's, 5 BB's, 2 HBP's, and one hit allowed.

Following a needed shutdown inning from Jones, the Saints bats woke up and exploded for ten runs in the bottom of the third.

Hunter Stevens started the inning with a hard-hit single to left. Following an error, Jesus Moriel singled down the left field line to score Adrian Luna. With runners on first and second, Westman smoked a triple to left-center field, plating Tanner Olson and Moriel to extend the lead to 5-1. 

"They've both looked really good in the cage," said Froehling of Moriel and Westman. "They've both been some of our better hitters in the cage. Some of these other guys are a little more experienced but Jack and Jesus have both looked really good. We're expecting a lot of production from that part of the lineup because they've looked good in the cage, and they looked good here today."

A pair of wild pitches plated Westman and Cooper Olson. Stevens was hit by a pitch to score Stresemann, further pushing the lead to 8-1. Tyler Chapin scored on a single by Tanner Olson. Two more wild pitches plated two more Saints before a Cooper Olson popout finally brought an end to the inning.

Following Jones' departure from the mound, Tanner Olson and Stresemann each threw a shutout inning in the five-inning game to wrap up the 12-1 victory.