Saxony bats take toll on Bell City

Saturday, April 4, 2009
Saxony Lutheran's Seth Stevens hits a single that scored Bret Steffens from third base against Bell City during the second inning Friday at Saxony. (Fred Lynch)

Bottom of the lineup makes big contribution in Friday's win.

Junior Seth Stevens went hitless in Saxony Lutheran's first three games, but he delivered RBI singles each time he stepped to plate against Bell City on Friday.

"First couple games I've just been a little off, but I've been working on it," Stevens said. "And this game I started hitting it and it feels really good."

Stevens went 3-for-3 with five RBIs and two runs scored. He helped the Crusaders rout the Cubs 12-1 in five innings at Saxony Lutheran High School.

"I think I just felt more relaxed today," Stevens said. "I've been tensed up, especially the first game. It was hard to relax."

Bell City catcher Melvin Johnson tries to get a handle on a throw as Saxony Lutheran's Seth Stevens scores on a hit during the third inning Friday at Saxony Lutheran. (Fred Lynch)

Stevens, the No. 7 hitter for the Crusaders (4-0), also helped spark the bottom of the lineup, which had been struggling. The No. 6 through 9 hitters in the order Friday had gone a combined 2-for-26 at the plate in the first three games, but they combined for eight hits and reached base 10 times in 12 at-bats against Bell City (0-3).

The top and most of the middle of Saxony's lineup had held the team together in the first three games. The first five batters in the lineup entered Friday's game with averages of .500 or better and were a combined 22-for-38.

"The top of the lineup has been doing great all year and the bottom of the lineup has been struggling, so it's nice to do [our] part," said No. 9 hitter Chad Bachmann, who stroked two hits Friday.

Bachmann had spent time during the offseason specifically working together with Stevens and Stevens' father on hitting at the batting cages at Saxony's field.

Stevens tied the game 1-1 with an RBI single in the bottom of the second. His second hit scored two runs to make it 4-1 in the third.

The junior also had a two-run single, which was part of a seven-run fourth inning that put the game out of reach.

Stevens batted under .200 while starting for the Crusaders last year, but he hit the ball well last summer while playing Senior Babe Ruth.

"We were hoping that would follow through into the spring," Saxony coach Paul Sander said about Stevens' strong summer. "And it did in practice and it did in intrasquad games, but he struggled a little bit in the first three games and couldn't find any holes. ... What I like about Seth is his baseball knowledge. He's a very intelligent baseball player. You don't have to tell him where to be. You don't have to tell him when to run."

No. 6 hitter Trent Steffens was 1-for-7 entering the game, but the freshman also had a breakout game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

"I was just seeing the ball good today," Steffens said. "I hadn't been seeing the ball good the last two games."

Bell City hurler Josh Overbey gave up 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings. His defense made two costly errors behind him.

The Crusaders banged out 15 hits overall -- some of which were bloops. Two of Stevens' hits found gaps in the outfield.

"I don't think they really hit the ball really hard," Cubs coach Matt Asher said about the Saxony offense. "They just found gaps. They did a good job of not striking out, which I've been trying to tell my guys. Bottom line today is that you can't give teams extra outs, and if we can't make simple plays we're not going to win."

Garrett Fritsche earned the win on the mound to improve to 2-0. He pitched five innings, allowing four hits, no walks and one unearned run. He struck out seven batters.

"Garrett did a good job of mixing up pitches," Asher said. "He did a good job of keeping us off-balance."

Fritsche stranded two runners after the Saxony defense committed three errors in the first inning. In the fourth inning, Fritsche pitched out of a jam when the Cubs had runners at the corners with no outs. At that point, Saxony led by four runs.

"I just knew I was going to have to buckle down and do something," Fritsche said. "I was relying on my defense."

Fritsche struck out the next two batters and recorded the final out when speedy Ronnie Gross hit a dribbler to the third base side of the mound. Fritsche charged the ball, scooped and fired a strike to first base to retire the side.

"[Gross] is fast, and I thought he was closer to first than he was," Fritsche said. "I got off as quick as I could and I just threw it over there. I didn't even look when I threw. I was lucky it went right to him."

Bell City10000--142
Saxony Lutheran0237x--12153

WP -- Garrett Fritsche, 2-0. LP -- Josh Overbey. Multiple hits -- Saxony: Fritsche 2-3, Bryant Steffens 3-4, Trent Steffens 2-3, Seth Stevens 3-3, Chad Bachmann 2-2. Bell City -- Overbey 2-2. Records -- Saxony 4-0, Bell City 0-3.

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