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Lourdes returns to section title game in baseball

Lourdes defeated Plainview-Elgin-Millville 7-1 on Saturday to reach the Section 1AA championship game.

Sam Schneider.jpg
Lourdes senior catcher Sam Schneider warms up in the on-deck circle during Section 1AA baseball play on Saturday, June 4, at Mayo Field in Rochester. Lourdes defeated Plainview-Elgin-Millville 7-1 to advance to the section championship game.
Guy N. Limbeck / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Lourdes is heading back to the Section 1AA championship in baseball and this time the Eagles are in control.

A year ago Lourdes reached the section title game, but had one loss and then suffered a 10-inning setback to Plainview-Elgin-Millville and settled for a runner-up finish. On Saturday, Lourdes defeated P-E-M 7-1 in the winner bracket final at Mayo Field. Lourdes needs just one win on Tuesday to earn a state berth.

“Ever since we played this game last year, we’ve put our heads to the grindstone,” Lourdes catcher Sam Schneider said. “Love every single one of these guys on this team. It feels good, we put in work and it’s a fun time.”

Lourdes ace Joe Sperry pitched six shutout innings and allowed just two hits as the Eagles defeated P-E-M for the second time this season. He struck out nine and walked just one.

“Really just having control of my two favorite pitches, my fastball and my slider,” Sperry said of his success. “I think my best pitch was my fastball, just blowing it by guys.”

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Sperry has been dominant on the mound all season and he has an ERA under 1.00 and Saturday's victory was his eighth of the season.

“Joe is a workhorse and he embodies everything we want this team to be,” Schneider said. “He’s been such a great leader this year, just everything from the way he carries himself on the mound and the kind intensity that he brings. That kid of intensity, that edge, that’s what we needed this year.”

Lourdes broke open a 1-0 game by scoring three runs in the third inning. Freshman Nick Bowron had the big hit with a two-run double off the wall in right field.

That was more than enough runs for Sperry, who allowed four runners in six innings and three of those were cut down on the bases.

“Right now we’re playing really good baseball,” Sperry said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, we’re up there swinging, playing good defense and we’re starting to run the bases more.”

Lourdes (17-4) scored three more runs in the fifth. Sam Stanley capped the inning with a two-run single.

“That’s one thing we’ve been really big about this year, just taking it one game at a time, one out, one inning at time,” Schneider said. “Just that mindset all the way through and trying to win ball games.”

Lourdes has also gotten solid production from up and down its order. Seven different Eagles players have hit home runs this season.

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Lourdes coach Dave Jenson said a key for the Eagles this year is growth and maturity. Lourdes has more than half of its starters back from a year ago and this group was eager to take another step this season.

“We just didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves trying to feel like we've got to get to the section final,” Jenson said. “Last year when we lost games in the playoffs it’s because we made errors and just got nervous.”

Lourdes will take a seven-game winning streak into the section title game, which be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Mayo Field.

“Right now we’re playing really good baseball,” Sperry said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence, we’re up there swinging, playing good defense and we’re starting to run the bases more.”

Sperry threw just 75 pitches so he is available to pitch again in the title game on Tuesday, but the Eagles will likely start lefty Carter Wenszell.

“We’re in a good spot right now,” Sperry said. “We can throw anybody we want on Tuesday. So we’re going to be ready to go and we’re going to be very, very, very hard to beat.”

Lourdes will play P-E-M in the section title game. The Bulldogs (17-8) bounced back in the loser-out final to defeat Pine Island 6-3 later on Saturday. P-E-M would need to beat Lourdes twice to earn a state berth for the second straight year.

“It’s always fun competing against them and it’s really high intensity,” Sperry said. “We expect the same for Tuesday so we’re going to be ready.”

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Lourdes 7, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 1
Plainview-Elgin-Millville#000#000#1#—#1#4#4
Lourdes#103#030#x#—#7#7#2
Plainview-Elgin-Millville: Baden Fenton 1-for-3; Glen Schmidt 1 R; Connor McGuire 1-for-3; Jameston Brinkman 1-for-3; Braxton Tlougan 1-for-3, 1 RBI. Pitchers: Jason Feils (LP) 3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K; Carson Reeve 1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 K; Logan Dittrich 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.
Lourdes: Luke Bigler 1 R; Cam Powell 1 RBI; Carter Wenszell 1 R; Sam Stanley 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 1 R; Nick Bowron 2-for-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R; Gannon Fix 2 RBI; Joe Sperry 1-for-4, 1 2B; Seth Haight 1 R; Brendan Davick 1-for-3, 1 R; Isaac Wenszell 1-for-3, 1 R. Pitchers: Joe Sperry (WP) 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K; Braden Mlenar 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.

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Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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