Saints' offense goes silent in 0-3 week

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

In a three-game week that saw the Saints drop both ends of a doubleheader against Luverne and fall to Sleepy Eye on Saturday, the Saints' offense could only muster six runs across 19 innings of play.

In the first end of the doubleheader, the Cardinals used five runs in the first two innings and a strong outing from Ethan Beyer on the mound to come away with an 8-2 victory.

Following a leadoff single by Bailey Cowell, Cade Wenninger laced a double to right to score Cowell to get the Luverne offense off and running. Casey Sehr singled to center to score Wenninger. With the bases loaded and one out, Saints starter Alex Stresemann recorded a strikeout of Luke Bosch and a flyout from Riley Sneller to escape further damage.

After a 1-2-3 bottom of the first, Stresemann surrendered three more runs in the second on a triple from Trevor Halverson, a sacrifice fly from Beyer, and a double by Connor Connell, who was cut down at third on a nice relay by the Saints.

In the bottom of the second, St. James tallied one of its two runs on an error off the bat of Jack Westman to score Tanner Olson. 

After laboring through the first two innings, Stresemann was able to settle in and keep Luverne off the scoreboard through the fifth inning before giving way to Cooper Olson.

"He throws strikes for the most part, and that's what we needed," said head coach Landis Froehling. "We needed four [or] five innings out of him today and he gave us five. And we really needed that because the games are piling upon us."Up 5-1 heading into the seventh, Wenninger put the final stamp on his day at the plate, ripping a single up the middle to score Connell and Braydon Ripka. Sneller added another hit to score Wenninger.

St. James added a run on a wild pitch but left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, with Bosch shutting the door on the St. James rally.

Beyer earned the win for Luverne, going 6.1 with six strikeouts while only allowing three hits. The Cardinals' offense pounded out 18 hits, with three coming from Wenninger, Sehr, and Connell.

In game two, the Saints offense recorded just two hits, and the Cardinals used an eight-run fifth, to shut out the Saints 10-0 in a five-inning affair. 

The Cards scratched a run across in each the second and fourth inning off Saints' starter Connor Jones.

In the fifth, three walks and singles from Sehr, Connell, and Ripka extended the lead to 5-0 and marked the end of the outing for Jones. Jesus Moriel entered and allowed a walk and two doubles to close out the game with a 10-0 final. 

Cade Wenninger threw all five innings, allowing just the two hits and striking out six.

"We've seen better pitching for sure and it shows," said Froehling of his team's struggles at the plate. "A lot of these guys are young and don't have any varsity experience so we haven't seen that kind of pitching. In VFW and junior high, you don't see that kind of pitching. We just have to get reps at the plate."

On Saturday morning, the Saints welcomed in the Sleepy Eye Indians, who used a seven-run seventh and a quality start from Nolan Domeier to beat the Saints 13-3.

St. James tagged the left-hander for a run in the first, scoring a run on a strikeout by Tanner Olson, where Jesus Moriel was able to advance home on a dropped third strike.

Sleepy Eye responded with two runs in the second off of Moriel on the strength of singles by Austin Eucker and Caden Evers.

St. James tied the game at 2-2 on a sacrifice fly by Stresemann, scoring Olson. 

In the top of the fifth, Keigan Heiderscheidt singled to score Domeier. Heiderscheidt later scored on a balk by Moriel.

Kadon Strong stayed true to his surname, blasting a no-doubt home run to left field to push the lead to 5-2.

After a scoreless half for St. James, Sleepy Eye tallied another run on a Nick Meilke single to score Evers.

Stresemann knocked in Moriel with a single in the sixth to cut the lead to  6-3. Hunter Stevens struck out to end the inning, leaving the potential game-tying run in the on-deck circle.

In the seventh, Sleepy Eye left zero doubt, scoring seven runs—including four before the Saints recorded an out—on hits by Arian Saenz, Evers, and Erizem Traconis.

Meilke added a two-run double and Heiderscsheidt grounded out to score Meilke, finally bringing an end to the onslaught.

"I told the guys I don't like losing, I can handle losing, but I think we called it in at the end there," said Froehling. "I can't handle not finishing, and today we didn't just finish. We weren't mentally ready to finish a game. We were in a game we should be able to compete in and we ended up not competing."

The loss extends the Saints' losing streak to four, and knocks St. James to 3-4 on the year.