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Everything turned out the way Saint James wanted in its opening round of the baseball playoffs. With good pitching, good hitting and good defense the Trojans eliminated visiting Randolph County by whipping the Tigers 7-0 and 11-0. “These guys played probably the best two games of the season today,” Trojans coach Keith Lucky said. “They executed and hustled and played great defense. Pitching was good and we swung the bats well. This is exactly what we wanted in the post season.”
Carson Howard had another good day on the mound and won game one fanning 10 Tigers. Howard issued only two walks and threw 99 pitches in six innings. Zac Russell finished the game with an inning in relief.
Howard also led the team at the plate and smashed seven hits in seven at bats. He reached base an eighth time when he was hit by a pitch. Collier Dean added plenty of fireworks in the opener by going 4 for 4. “This was one of those great days. Pitching was good and we backed up the pitchers with hitting. I think what you saw today is the team we want to be,” Dean said.
The Trojans also took advantage of four Tiger errors and four hit batters in the first game. Those mistakes by Randolph County helped the Trojans score three in the second inning and three in the third inning.
Matthew Robinson pitched the entire second game which was called with the mercy rule after five innings. Robinson was effective and surrendered four hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Saint James struck early and batted around in the first inning bringing six runs across the plate. The Tigers made four errors in the inning. Saint James collected another three runs in the second inning and added another in the third and fifth innings.
Robinson came close to belting a grand slam in the second game. With the strong wind blowing in he still managed to send a long sacrifice fly to the fence in center field. Alex Whisenhunt, Jake Prickett also added RBI in the later innings. Saint James had 10 total hits in the second game.
Saint James catcher Jackson Howard, older brother to first game winner Carson, said he was proud of his pitchers. “Carson’s curve was a little off but he made adjustments and corrected things. Matthew pitched well and hit his spots all of the game. I’m proud of them. They both did a great job and made by job easier. This is what we wanted from them in the playoffs,” Howard explained.
“Toward the end of the season I was getting concerned about scoring runs, but today we hit the ball very well. We took advantage of the errors they made and that is something we have not done this year, so I’m glad to see us capitalize when opportunities come around. This was really a great day for us and I am real proud of the guys,” Lucky said.
Saint James, now 21-8 for the season, will meet the winner of the Opp and Wicksburg series. If Opp advances the series will be played at Saint James. If Wicksburg advances the Trojans will be required to travel.