Sacred Heart welcomed the Wellington Napoleon Tigers from the I 70 Conference to the Centennial Park fields on a chilly, late March, afternoon. By the time it was over the Tigers did not feel very welcome. The Gremlins scored in all four of their at bats and ended the game by mercy rule after 4 and ½ innings.
Junior center fielder and leadoff hitter Jackson Smith was the catalyst to the 11-1 victory. Smith was 2 for 2 at the plate with 2 walks, a stolen base, 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs.
Smith got things rolling for the Grems in the bottom of the first by drawing a walk and promptly stealing second base. With one out shortstop Caleb Tanguay drilled a double to the base of the fence in right center to score Smith. The next hitter, first baseman Clint Spangler, singled to right to drive in Tanguay and the Grems were ahead 2-0 at the end of one.
Gremlin starter, Kolin Brace, gave up an unearned run in the top of the second to allow Wellington to pull within 2-1. Brace (1-0) earned the win going 4 innings giving up only the one unearned run. The Gremlin sophomore had 4 strike outs and 6 walks over his 4 innings of work.
In the bottom of the second senior right fielder Michael Hohne got things started with a one out single up the middle. After Smith drew his second walk of the game left fielder Ben Smeltzer singled sharply to left to drive in Hohne.
Smith scored the second run of the inning when the Wellington shortstop booted a Tanguay ground ball. Clint Spangler followed that by picking up his second RBI of the contest with a fielder’s choice ground ball to short to score Smeltzer.
Sacred Heart added another run in the third. Second baseman Chance Spangler led off the inning with a line drive double to left center. Smith drove Spangler home with a 2 out single up the middle to make the score 6-1 after 3 innings.
Wellington looked like they had something going in the top of the fourth. Brace started the inning by walking the number 8 and 9 hitters in the Wellington line up before leadoff man Blake Bunch made the first out on a soft liner to Tanguay at short.
Wellington catcher Dallas Reynolds then drew Brace’s third walk of the inning to load the bases with only one out. The Tiger’s Blake Gray followed with a long fly to right center that was run down by on a nice play by right fielder Michael Hohne. The Wellington runner at second failed to tag up and the Grems doubled him off, ending the threat and Brace’s first outing of the young season.
The Grem’s second year head coach, Jaric Reid, commented on Brace’s performance. “I was happy with how Kolin battled. Last year he was a little hard on himself if things didn’t go well but tonight he stayed focused and worked his way out of a couple of jams.”
When asked why Brace did not go back out for the fifth Reid said, “His pitch count had climbed over 80 by the end of the fourth. It is early in the season and the weather wasn’t very good so we let Caleb Tanguay get some work.”
The Grems padded the lead to 11-1 in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five unearned runs on three Tiger errors, allowing Tanguay to come in to finish the game.
Tanguay, a senior, looked strong facing the minimum 3 batters in the Wellington fifth inning to close out the contest. Aaron Schuster (0-1) took the loss for Wellington Napoleon (0-2) going three and two thirds innings, giving up 11 runs, 5 earned, striking out 3 Gremlin hitters, walking 3 and hitting 2 batters.
In addition to Jackson Smith the Grems were led on offense by Ben Smeltzer (2 for 4, 2 runs scored and an RBI), Tanguay (2 for 3, 2 doubles, 1 run scored, 2 RBI’s and a hit by pitch) and Clint Spangler (1 for 3, 2 RBI’s and a hit by pitch).
The Gremlins are now 2-0 on the young season. They will host the Liberty Park Bash on Saturday, April 5 when Pilot Grove and Versailles join them for an exciting day of high school baseball in historic Liberty Park Stadium. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia Weekly Observer.