Crusaders shut out Woodland

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saxony Lutheran marched into the district semis with a 4-0 victory.

CHARLESTON -- Woodland had no answer for senior pitcher Bryant Steffens, or the solid defense behind him.

Saxony Lutheran coasted to a 4-0 win in its Class 2 District 3 baseball opener Monday.

Steffens pitched a complete-game shutout, scattering three hits and striking out three. He allowed just one runner to reach second base and retired the side in order in three of the seven innings.

"I mixed my pitches really well and kept them off balance all day," said Steffens, who improved to 5-2 this season. "I only had three strikeouts, so that means I made them put the ball in play and let my defense work for me."

The Crusaders' offense struggled, batting .166 (4 of 24) in the game. But Saxony Lutheran showed patience as it coaxed six walks.

"Our pitching and defense were great," Saxony Lutheran coach Paul Sander said. "We need to improve our hitting. Our guys were a little over-anxious up there ... swinging from their shoes."

Steffens helped his cause by going 2-for-2 with a pair of stolen bases, a run scored and a walk.

Steffens wasted no time building a lead for himself as he laced a single into center field to drive in the first run in the bottom of the first. He later singled through the left side in the third to make it 2-0.

Senior shortstop Garrett Fritsche doubled on a line drive to left field in the fifth, and on the next pitch he swiped third base and scored on an errant throw.

Later in the the fifth, after a walk and stolen base, Bryant Steffens scored on a hard hit ball up the middle by catcher Bret Steffens to cap the scoring.

Saxony Lutheran (20-3) put 10 runners on and wreaked havoc on the bases, racking up five steals.

"We always try to be aggressive on the basepaths to try and get something started, especially on a day like today when we aren't hitting well," Sander said.

Woodland managed four baserunners. Shortstop Martin Williams was the lone bright spot, going 2-for-3 with a line-drive single on the third pitch of the game and a bloop single in the third inning.

Sophomore Neil Johnson threw 4 2/3 innings and battled early control problems for the Cardinals. He allowed four earned runs, four hits and five walks.

Saxony Lutheran will play Charleston in today's 4:15 p.m. semifinal.


WP -- Bryant Steffens. LP -- Neil Johnson. 2B -- Garrett Fritsche (SL). Multiple hits -- Woodland: Williams 2-3; Saxony Lutheran: Bryant Steffens 2-2. Records -- Saxony Lutheran 20-3.

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