Fritsche bests Pobst in Crusaders' 4-1 victory

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Crusaders' ace shut down Oranin a 4-1 victory.

ORAN -- Garrett Fritsche drew extra motivation from facing one of the hardest throwing pitchers in Southeast Missouri.

Fritsche never blinked, even with a sore arm.

The Saxony Lutheran senior outpitched Oran's Jayden Pobst as the Crusaders downed the Eagles 4-1 on Tuesday.

"I came into the game not even knowing if I was going to pitch because I pitched the other day and my arm's still bothering me," Fritsche said. "Warming up, it felt pretty good, so I knew I was probably going to have to rely on defense more than I usually do.

"Today, halfway through the game, the pain went away and it felt great. I was able to control the ball and put it where I wanted about every pitch."

Fritsche pitched a complete game Friday, but it was hard to tell he wasn't at his best Tuesday. He struck out nine in another complete-game effort.

"He had all four pitches going," Saxony catcher Bret Steffens said. "His fastball was hard enough and his changeup was working well enough to keep them off balance.

"I don't think they were truly comfortable up there, which helped a lot because they're a good hitting team."

Fritsche ran into a spot of trouble in the third inning, when an error followed by two singles plated Oran's lone run. But Fritsche limited the damage and didn't allow a runner to reach second the rest of the way.

"My fastball was working and then my changeup got quite a few people out," Fritsche said. "Then about halfway through the game, my knuckleball started working, too. I was struggling with that and I finally got strikes out of that, and that definitely helped throwing them off."

While Fritsche silenced the Eagles' bats, Pobst mowed through the Saxony (9-1) lineup in the first two innings. He struck out four through the first two innings, with three coming on fastballs and one on a curveball that had the batter ducking out of the way on a called third strike.

"When we saw that Pobst was pitching, the premier hard thrower in the area, what it did for these kids ... was motivate them," Saxony coach Paul Sander said.

The Crusaders capitalized on their chances against Oran's ace. After the Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the third, Saxony answered with a run in the fourth. Seth Stevens sneaked a single into center to score a run.

In the sixth, Stevens delivered again. He laced a double to left-center field with two outs to score Trent Steffens from first base.

"I'm just looking for a fastball right down the middle, and I was getting it most of the time," Stevens said.

Oran coach Mitch Wood said that while Pobst threw well enough to win, finishing with nine strikeouts, it wasn't one of his better outings.

"He's a lot better pitcher than what he showed today, but that happens," Wood said. "You'll have a bad outing, especially when you throw that hard. Hopefully he'll come back around."

The Saxony players said they'll use their experience from Tuesday against other top-tier pitchers they face down the road.

"Coming into this game, I knew he was one of the best pitchers around," Fritsche said of Pobst. "It was definitely good to see that we could beat him, and that means we can compete with about any pitcher there is."


WP -- Garrett Fritsche. LP -- Jayden Pobst. 2B -- Seth Stevens (SL). Multiple hits -- Saxony: Seth Stevens 2-2. Records -- Saxony Lutheran 9-1, Oran 6-4.

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