JM Century baseball 4-17 /kh/
By Ben Pherson
It took a few innings for Spencer Brady to find his rhythm. But when he finally found it, the Rochester John Marshall pitcher was almost untouchable.
Brady pitched a complete game Monday, allowing two runs on seven hits and helping the Rockets come back for a 3-2 victory over rival Rochester Century in a Big Nine Conference showdown at Mayo Field.
John Marshall coach Terry Heiderscheit was impressed with his junior hurler.
"He had some issues in the first inning, but after that, that’s the best I’ve ever seen Spencer throw," Heiderscheit said.
Brady said he received a tip after the first inning, which helped make for clean sailing.
"In the first inning I struggled quite a bit," Brady said. "But I came in (to the dugout after the first inning) and (coach) told me that those guys struggle with the inside pitch, and I had to move it in off the outside corner. It seemed to make them get jammed more; it got us more outs."
Brady struck out six Century batters over seven innings. He did not walk a batter.
The Rockets, who improved to 3-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Nine, committed only one error, while Century finished with four.
"The defense was good," Brady said. "And then there’s (catcher Ben) Kall. He didn’t catch much last year, but we got it down. He calls all the pitches. He calls the game, really, and it’s working."
Though it’s early in the season, Century coach Keith Kangas wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense. He said the Panthers (3-1, 2-1) worked extensively in the preseason on improving their play in the field.
"That’s why it’s frustrating, because we spent so much time on it," Kangas said.
Heiderscheit downplayed the Century miscues, though. "Those are mistakes they’re not going to make later in the season. (Kangas) has a lineup of kids who are only going to get better," he said.
Kangas was pleased with his team’s effort on the mound and at the plate.
For much of the game, Century sophomore pitcher Jared Samuelson stole the show. Samuelson took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Through three innings, he already had struck out five JM batters.
Brady finally broke up Samuelson’s no-hitter with a double in the fifth.
Kangas also used juniors Nate Evens, Zach Dunbar and Nick Pronk on the hill.
"All those guys pitched well; it wasn’t on them," Kangas said. "The pitching matchup probably favored (John Marshall); we didn’t have our full staff available because we had a doubleheader Saturday."
The Century pitching staff held John Marshall to four hits.
Senior leadoff hitter Erik Knutson paced the Rockets at the plate. Knutson was on base all four times he came to bat, scoring two runs.
With the game tied at 2 heading into the top of the seventh inning, Knutson smacked a one-out double. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored the game-winning run on another wild pitch.
"Erik did what he does," Heiderscheit said. "He’s a nice weapon to have because he hits the ball so hard."
Kall, Brady and Jordan Rishavy had the other John Marshall hits.
Andy Knutson paced Century, going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Aaron Karnas and Mike DeBolt also had doubles for the Panthers.
Century opened the scoring in the first inning when Leon Clark led off with an infield single. He stole second and scored on DeBolt’s RBI double.
The Panthers made it 2-0 on Andy Knutson’s RBI double, which drove in Dana Hargesheimer.
But the Rockets rallied for two in the fifth. Both John Marshall runs scored on the same play when the Panthers failed to turn what would have been an inning-ending double play. Century got the first out at second base, but the throw to first sailed high, allowing Erik Knutson and Brady to score.
The Rockets are back in action today at Mayo Field against Rochester Mayo. Century travels to Winona today.
JOHN MARSHALL 3, CENTURY 2
JM 000 020 1 — 3 4 1
Century 100 100 0 — 2 7 4
WP: Spencer Brady. LP: Nate Evens.