Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
The Helias baseball team struggled at the plate Monday, tallying just five hits and stranding eight runners against Camdenton.
By the time the Crusaders put enough offense together to nullify the Lakers’ three-run lead, Helias’ defense lost its footing, letting Camdenton plate an unearned run in the top of the seventh to secure a 4-3 win.
“It was a pretty poor effort on our part,” Helias coach Chris Wyrick said. “We just assumed pitchers are going to do things to change so we can hit them, and that’s not the way sports are. That’s not the way you play baseball. They’re not going to change what they’re doing successfully to let you hit, and we didn’t adjust.”
The Crusaders failed to notch a hit until the third inning, and their first eight baserunners failed to score.
Camdenton starter Kael Jackson struggled with command early, hitting the first batter in the first and second innings and getting behind in the count to five of the first seven batters. He managed to minimize damage, however, and Helias didn’t record an extra-base hit until the fifth inning.
“He gave us some quality innings,” Camdenton coach Matt Moulder said, “kept us in the ball game, kept us in the lead and gave us a chance to win. That’s priority one.”
The Crusaders’ first extra-base hit, a Todd Buschjost double, sparked a two-run fifth when Nolan Sachse walked, Alex Barton grounded Buschjost home, and Sachse scored on an air-mailed attempt to prevent him from stealing third.
At that point, however, the Lakers had already plated three runs on nine hits, despite stranding a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings.
“We’re not the kind of team that’s going to score 10 runs,” Moulder said. “We’re going to have to win those tight ones.”
The Crusaders chipped away at Camdenton’s one-run edge in the sixth. Kale Gerstner kicked things off with Helias’ second straight leadoff double. Chase Bexten sacrificed him to third with a popout to center, and pinch hitter Will Blankenship singled him home.
“We had guys that actually made a productive out,” Wyrick said. “If they made an out, they made a productive out, moved the guys over in that situation.”
The game was tied for the first time since the third inning, but it didn’t last long.
Jake Decker reached on a one-out infield error for Camdenton. Parker Stidham reached first on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on an infield hit by second baseman Bryan Hoffman. Rickey Hedrick then hit a ball sharply off the heel of Crusader second baseman Dylan Gaines’ glove. Helias’ second error of the inning richocheted wide past first base and allowed Stidham to score the winning run from second.
“We didn’t play catch,” Wyrick said. “We stress that every day at practice, is to play catch, and we didn’t play catch. And subsequently, they got a run out of it. Defense was not good today.”
Moulder said the Lakers have had their share of bad bounces this season, so he was glad to see one go Camdenton’s way.
“We’ve been snakebit with some bad hops all year long, so we’ve just kind of been — well, we’re due to get a break here and there,” he said. “… We had a couple of those tonight, certainly, but it’s one of those you’ve got to take advantage of those chances, and if something bad happens against you, be resilient enough to overcome it. I thought our kids did a real nice job being resilient and competing for a full seven innings.”
The Lakers improved to 2-3 on the season. Helias fell to 3-3.
“If they want to go through the motions and lose games because they … don’t do the little things right, then that’s what’s going to happen,” Wyrick said. “That’s all you can do. I can’t play for them. They have to go out there and do it for themselves, and if they don’t want to get it done, if they can’t get it done, then we’re going to lose games.”
Helias won the JV game 13-2. The Crusaders play at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hickman.