By Robb Hemmelgarn
ST. MARYS -- When the baseball season began this spring, the deck was certainly stacked against the Marion Local Flyers and new head coach Chad Wells. With the success of the boy's basketball team, coupled with nice weather in April, Wells had it difficult finding much time for his troops to acclimate to his new coaching system. As the regular season now begins to wind down, it seems as if the Blue and Gold are beginning to find their offensive niche.
Thursday they traveled to K.C. Geiger Park and downed the St. Marys Roughriders 12-7, their third straight game putting double digits on the scoreboard.
"We got a late start this season with basketball, plus we haven't had many rain outs," said Wells. "We haven't had a lot of practices at all and with all of the games we played right off the bat, we were forced to get into the groove pretty quick. Tonight we did a lot of things well against a very solid St. Marys team, so I'm pleased with that -- hopefully it will continue."
Flyers lead-off hitter Mitch Thobe got things under way with a single to start the first, moved to second base on a hit by Adam Kremer and scored on a Cory Luebke single.
The Roughriders answered in the bottom of the second inning as Andy Langston reached base on a walk and scored a few batters later following an error on the Flyer defense. "We really don't have any excuses tonight," remarked Roughrider head coach Fred Hullinger. "Marion Local put the bat on the ball well and did what they had to do to win. It's good to get a game like this out of the way before the weekend."
With the contest knotted at 1-1 in the top of the third inning, the Flyers quickly jolted back ahead as Kremer led off with his second of three hits for the game. Luebke knocked a double off the leftfield fence, plating Kremer for the go-ahead run. Luebke gave his team a 3-1 lead a few moments later when Eric Schroeder connected on a sacrifice fly.
The Roughriders didn't waste anytime taking their first lead of the game in their half of the third inning. With one out, Matt Helmstetter sent a long fly ball past the outstretched arms of Thobe in centerfield. Helmstetter raced to third base and scored one batter later when Tom Burke knocked a base hit. Nick Pfeffenberger walked and Scott Vossler cleared the bases with a three-run shot over the right-centerfield fence, giving the 'Riders the 5-3 advantage.
"We had a few defensive lapses at different times tonight, but the kids stuck with it and didn't give up," commented Wells. "We have lost a few games this year by a run or two because we haven't hit well. For the last couple of games, we have been connecting well, so hopefully that can continue - we still have some big games left."
The visitors refused to die, picking up three more runs in the fourth inning on three hits, as Thobe, Kremer, and Joe Kemper each crossed the plate to put their team ahead, 6-5. The Roughriders knotted the game for the second time, when in the bottom of the fourth inning, Deron Steinke scored from second base following a sacrifice hit by Ty Widman.
Marion Local left little doubt as to the outcome of the game as it scored six times in the final two frames to go up, 12-6. Kremer scored his third and fourth runs in the two-inning span, while Cory Luebke picked up his second and third runs in the final two innings. A score by each Mitch Thobe and Troy Luebke, gave Marion Local the six-run lead which was too much for the Roughriders to overcome.
"This was a big win for our program tonight," said Wells. "To go on the road against a very good team and come away with the win, is a great thing and something the kids can really be proud of."
Both teams return to action this afternoon, as Marion Local (11-6) will face St. Henry and St. Marys will host Bath in conference showdowns. Marion Local will face the New Bremen Cardinals in sectional tournament action Saturday, while St. Marys will again face Bath on Saturday morning in tournament action.