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Crusaders bow out of OIBA to Bowmen

Another dandy comeback, another unsentimental defeat.

Down 3-1 to Sherwood in the bottom of the seventh inning last week in the second round of the OIBA end-of-summer tournament, Jesuit made a baneful recovery that echoed images of the Crusaders’ previous furious two-out comeback in June against the Bowmen.

Ultimately, it was Sherwood’s championship moxie that shone through, just as it did the previous time the two teams battled.

Jesuit put ducks on the pond in the seventh after Christian Martinek’s infield single and Donovan Baldocchi was hit by a pitch. Paul Wyatt’s faultless sacrifice bunt down the third base line moved both runners into scoring position with only one out. Taylor struck out the next Crusader but walked Alexander Anderson to bring Trent Werner — Jesuit’s hottest hitter — to the dish. Taylor was pulled for closer Brandon Geiger, who promptly hit Werner with a fastball in the back to score Martinek and close the deficit to 3-2.

Connor Kaempf, the next batter, hit a tricky chopper on the infield grass. Bowman third baseman Dayton Vaughn charged the hopper, fielded it cleanly, and moving toward home plate at full speed, ripped an off-balance rocket to Travis Kotowski for the third and final out. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit first baseman Christian Martinek celebrates his solo home run with head coach Tim Massey.

The 3-2 defeat put Jesuit in the double-elimination bracket the next day, where the Crusaders beat Barlow but were eliminated later in the afternoon.

“We rallied there in the seventh, but early in the game, we didn’t get it going,” said pitcher Tanner Ueland. “We couldn’t quite get the bats going. Our coaches tell us to make adjustments a lot, I don’t know if it was our guys not making those adjustments or if it was (Sherwood pitcher) Zak (Taylor) just dealing. The bats just didn’t get hot today.”

Taylor was terrific all afternoon, throwing six and two-thirds innings while helping his own cause with an RBI triple in the third. The Crusaders were frozen at times by Taylor’s ability to mix both velocities and pitches on the outer half of the dish. When Jesuit tried to be patient in the box, Taylor whizzed fastballs by them. If the Crusaders tried to get out in front of the righty’s mid-70s fastball, the shrewd junior slung a little off-speed junk that rolled off the table into the strike zone.by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuits Donovan Baldocchi tries to turn a double play in the second inning against Sherwood.

“He was just on today,” said Wyatt of Taylor. “He really located his spots well, and he mixed in a fastball, curveball and change-up. I’m proud of the guys and how we really battled back at the end.”

Ueland said Jesuit wanted to get the leadoff man on base to move guys around the bags and set up the rest of the inning. Taylor, however, was the tide-turning tone-setter at the start of the stanzas. Martinek’s solo, opposite field homer in the fifth and infield single in the seventh were the only instances Jesuit was able to reach without an out. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit pitcher Ken Carlson camps out under a pop-up in the infield for an out versus Sherwood.

“We didn’t get that many base runners, and as you can see by the score, we didn’t really capitalize,” said Ueland. “A loss like that is frustrating. We thought we had a chance in the seventh to get back into it but (Taylor) just shut us down.”

Starting out hot

Ueland and Ken Carlson pitched effectively for Jesuit, preventing Sherwood from staging any sort of big inning or huge rally. In the second inning, with two outs and the bags full of Bowmen, Baldocchi made a sweet pick in the hole, roaming to his left, and heaved the ball to Martinek at first.

The throw appeared to arrive in the nick of time, but Sherwood’s Keegan Lawrence hustled out the infield single for the Bowmen’s first score, 1-0. Taylor’s triple plated Adley Rutschman and padded the advantage to 2-0 in the third.

Taylor later scored on a wild pitch to go up 3-0 against Ueland who started out hot, retiring Sherwood’s first three hitters of the ballgame. In addition to the strong beginning, Ueland picked off two base runners, including a stunning spin-and-chuck to second base to squash Sherwood’s two-out upturn in the second.

Carlson took over for Ueland in the third and held Sherwood scoreless the rest of the way.

“I was hitting my spots, but after that, in the second and third innings, I kind of got tangled up,” said Ueland. “If I can pitch like I did in the that first inning, I think I can be a pretty good pitcher. When I get inconsistent and stop hitting my spots, that’s when I get into trouble and put guys on the bases.”

The silver lining to Jesuit’s early summer exodus is that left-handed hitting star Evan Haberle will be back full-time in the spring. Martinek looks like his old, first-team all-state self both on the mound and at the plate.

“Those guys are fun to play with,” said Ueland. “They’re such good players, and they’re actually really good leaders for the team. Once we get that leadership for the team and that talent back, I think we’ll be pretty good.”

On the mound

It was unsure if Martinek would play at all during OIBA, but once the big lefty was medically cleared from a slight tear in his left elbow tendon, there was little that could stand in his way of reappearing. The southpaw’s summer impact was immediate and substantive.

Martinek, along with Colton French, Thomas Swide, Carlson and Arpan make up a starting pitching rotation that could be scary deep with enough quality arms to get the Crusaders far in the 6A postseason.

Haberle is coming off a confidence-boosting summer of playing for MoundTime and suiting up in the Area Code Games. Next spring, head coach Tim Massey could feasibly have Werner, Haberle and Martinek at the top of his batting order with Chris Arpan and Anderson providing protection.

“We really compete well, so we have the potential to go far,” said Wyatt. “We have to make sure everything fits together. I think we have all the puzzle pieces. We just gotta make sure the whole picture comes together.”

Position players such as Wyatt, Tucker Hamilton, Thomas Vickers, Marco Albanese and Matthew Kollas each had glimmers of promise and stood out in OIBA contests. They all can play numerous spots in the infield and outfield and can manage the bat in handy situations. Ueland envisions himself being in the starting rotation next spring, if he can control his pitches and go long into games. He’s hoping to get a lot of innings on the mound as well as man second or third base.

“This has kind of been a building summer,” said Ueland. “The freshmen that have come up, like Arpan and Baldocchi, have done well and stepped up in their roles. It’s been a building process, a learning process. We’re just trying to get comfortable with our new team with a lot of seniors leaving.”

Wyatt said he’s prepared to do whatever he can to see regular playing time in the spring.

“I just try to do something that makes the team a little bit better every day,” said Wyatt. “Over the off-season, I’m going to lift as much as I can and get bigger and stronger for the team. I try to do whatever I can — anywhere from being on the field to (pitching) charts in the dugout.”



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