For the first time since March 23, the St. Louis Community College baseball team has gained positive momentum as the Archers are now on a five-game win streak and back to .500 at 19-19 (11-9 Region XVI).
Head coach Tony Dattoli said getting back to .500 is good for the team’s mental side of the game.
“It’s a long road,” Dattoli said. “We’ve played some tough opponents without a doubt. We’ve also played some tough baseball – had some bad breaks on certain days. To battle back and get ourselves back to where we’re .500 and starting a new season, I think it’s important psychologically.”
The Archers find themselves on the win streak after capping off their most recent doubleheader sweep of Region XVI opponent St. Charles Community College by one-run margins April 13 at Heine Meine Field. The scores were 5-4 and 2-1.
In Game 1, freshman pitcher Matt Hasenbeck (Eureka) allowed four runs (two earned) over seven innings to get the complete-game victory. Hasenback also struck out eight Cougars en route to the win. In the top of the seventh inning, he escaped a jam with runners on second and third and no outs.
Freshman shortstop Enrique Finol (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fla.) got the Archers scoring started in Game 1 with an RBI groundout in the bottom of the first. Sophomore third baseman Larry Schimsa (Pacific) followed up with an RBI single. Schimsa has recorded 13 RBIs in his last six games.
Freshman outfielders Collin Zurweller (Fort Zumwalt East), Brandon Fowler (Rich Central, Ill.) and Austin Evans (Kearney) each drove home a run.
Freshman lefty Kurt McGuire (Mehlville) ended up with a quality start in Game 2 as he threw seven innings. He allowed one earned run, three hits, struck out six and walked only one batter. Freshman hurlers Jay Heller (Lindbergh) and Cody Starr (Kearney) pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out the nightcap.
Offensively, Schimsa went 4-for-4. Sophomore first baseman Matt Weiss (Parkway South) brought home a runner on an error in the bottom of the fifth, and sophomore catcher Alex Stoll (Valle) scored the go-ahead run on a balk in the bottom of the sixth.
Earlier in the week, the Archers swept St. Charles in Cottleville by scores of 15-3 and 11-3. Freshman pitcher Adam Bax (Blair Oaks) threw all five innings in Game 1 for the win. Sophomore first baseman Mike Erhard (CBC) had three RBIs in the 15-3 victory, and Schimsa belted a home run.
In Game 2, Schimsa collected four RBIs, and sophomore pitcher Dave Mullins (DeSmet) struck out seven in six innings for the win.
Dattoli said championship teams need effective pitching, and the Archers’ recent pitching performances are no exception to that.
“The fact that we’re getting quality starts from guys day in and day out has been beneficial for us as far as the progress we’re seeing within the team,” Dattoli said. “We’re throwing strikes, the guys are on their toes, and we’re making plays defensively. To have positive pitching performances, and to back it up with two more (on April 13), has been great.”
The Archers began the five-game winning streak with an 11-3 win over Fontbonne University’s junior varsity team in Clayton on April 10. Sophomore second baseman J.J. Kinnevan (St. Charles West) and Erhard both went deep in the win over the Griffins.
Next up for the Archers is a nine-inning, single-game contest against Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ill., on Tuesday, April 16. The last time the two schools tangled, the Archers staged a ferocious comeback attempt down to its last strike but came up short 11-10 on April 8. STLCC then will host Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, a Region XVI foe, in a doubleheader that starts at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at Heine Meine.
Dattoli said the momentum will help going forward for the Archers.
“A five-game win streak is great,” Dattoli said. “Things are happening in a positive manner. If we can kind of build on that, it could bode well for us.”
Story by Tim Doty