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Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

'Riders continue hot start

By Colin Foster

St. Marys' Mason Gross stretches to make the catch during Tuesday's game with El. . .

ST. MARYS - The St. Marys baseball team has been hitting its stride as of late.
Tuesday, the Roughriders were hitting something else: the cover off the ball.
The Roughriders totaled 14 hits and pitcher Brandon Coffey went six strong innings in a 9-2 victory over Elida in Western Buckeye League play at K.C. Geiger Park.
The top four hitters in the St. Marys order accounted for 11 hits, eight RBI and scored seven runs. Leadoff hitter Tristan Becker led the way, going 4-for-4 with a pair of triples, three runs and two RBI, cleanup hitter Isaac Fitzgerald finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and four RBI, and Nathan Wilker went 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI.   
"It's really been a pickup for our offense, truly, with those guys," St. Marys coach Jeff Dieringer said, referring to the big production from Becker, Fitzgerald and the top of the order. "They really set the table and kind of clear off the table for us. They're doing a good job."
Becker tripled on the first pitch he faced from Elida starter Max Stambaugh in the bottom of the first. Mason Gross singled to bring him home on the next at-bat, giving the Roughriders a 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs tied the score the following inning as Logan Alexander scored on the suicide squeeze bunt by Riley Overholt.
The Roughriders took control of the game after that, scoring five runs on seven hits in the next two innings to put the game out of reach. Becker's RBI single in the fifth, Fitzgerald's one-run double in the sixth and Nathan Vogel's sacrifice fly in the sixth gave St. Marys all the insurance it needed.
The Roughriders put their lead hitter on base in all six innings.
The Elida offense and St. Marys defense put Coffey in some sticky situations at times, but the senior hurler showed a ton of resiliency.
The Bulldogs had runners on second and third with one out in the first inning, but Coffey fielded a grounder and caught the runner at third in a rundown for the second out. On the next at-bat, Coffey forced a ground out to end the threat.
The St. Marys defense had two quick errors in the sixth, and Coffey found himself in bases-loaded jam with only one out. He struck out Justin Murphy, before Austin Morrison's infield single made the score 8-2. Coffey forced Josh Bull to pop up on the next at-bat, and Elida left three stranded.
Coffey finished with four strikeouts and allowed six hits to improve his record to 4-0 on the season with an ERA of 0.75. Marshall Lininger pitched the seventh and shut down the Elida side in relief work.
St. Marys is 12-1 overall, 2-1 in the WBL. Last year, the Roughriders finished 7-16, 2-7 in league. Dieringer credited maturity, focusing on the fundamentals and hard work for the turnaround.
"We're not trying to do anything special," he said. "I don't think we're necessarily coaching things different than those guys did last year. The guys have just excepted their roles. I think we've got a bunch of guys that get along with each other. That's really all were trying to do in a nutshell."
The Roughriders continue WBL play Friday, hosting Bath.
Additional online story on this date
NEW KNOXVILLE - Crown Equipment Corp.'s New Knoxville plant on Tuesday received Ohio's first-ever gold-level award for Encouraging Environmental Excellence. [More]
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