2017-06-01 / Sports

Rudyard Bulldogs Top St. Ignace Saints on Baseball Diamond; Districts Begin June 2

By Kevin R. Hess


Rudyard’s James Burton digs in at the plate against St. Ignace Tuesday, May 23, at the Saints baseball field. Rudyard swept the doubleheader, winning 10-5 and 6-3. Burton was the winning pitcher in game one. Rudyard’s James Burton digs in at the plate against St. Ignace Tuesday, May 23, at the Saints baseball field. Rudyard swept the doubleheader, winning 10-5 and 6-3. Burton was the winning pitcher in game one. The St. Ignace Saints and Rudyard Bulldogs battled in St. Ignace, Tuesday, May 23. Rudyard came away with two victories. The Bulldogs defeated the Saints 10-5 in game one and 6-3 in game two. In game one, Rudyard scored the first eight runs of the game. A late St. Ignace tried to rally with four runs in the final frame, but fell short, losing 10-5. Rudyard took advantage of seven St. Ignace errors.

The Bulldogs struck early with two runs in the opening inning. Trent MacDowell laced a single to centerfield, driving in one run. An error brought home the second run, giving Rudyard the early 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs struck for five runs in the second inning, the first scoring on two St. Ignace errors after Tyler Spencer stole second base. The first throw went into centerfield, allowing Spencer to advance to third. An errant throw to third brought Spencer home. Later in the inning, Dylan Mills doubled to left scoring two more runs. MacDowell extended the lead with a two-run single, giving Rudyard a 7-0 lead after two innings. Jakob Steikar drove in a run with an RBI infield single after a walk and a Dylan Mills double in the fourth inning. Mills was thrown out at home. Saints pitcher Joel Dodds retired the next two batters, limiting the damage.


St. Ignace’s Joel Dodds delivers a pitch to the plate in the Saints game one loss against Rudyard. Dodds came in relief, pitching 4.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, striking out four. The Saints lost two close games to the Bulldogs, 10-5 in game one, and 6-3 in game two. St. Ignace’s Joel Dodds delivers a pitch to the plate in the Saints game one loss against Rudyard. Dodds came in relief, pitching 4.1 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, striking out four. The Saints lost two close games to the Bulldogs, 10-5 in game one, and 6-3 in game two. St. Ignace got their first hits of the game in the bottom of the fourth when Sam Fullerton singled, and Preston Mayle doubled, scoring Fullerton. The Saints had runners on second and third with two outs in the fifth when Rudyard pitcher Spencer Pippo got Fullerton to pop out to shortstop and end the inning. The Bulldogs added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth on a dou- ble by Jace Jenerou, giving them a 10-1 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. The Saints rallied, with the first five batters reaching base. Mayle and E.J. Schultz both singled, followed by an Alex France walk. Kenny Rickley reached base on a Rudyard error, allowing two runs to score. Dodds then singled, scoring France and cutting the lead to 10-4, with St. Ignace runners on first and second with nobody out. Rudyard’s James Burton, who had started the game and was replaced earlier, returned to the mound and struck out the first batter he faced. A passed ball allowed Rickley to score, closing the gap to 10-5. After allowing a walk, Burton forced a fielder’s choice for out number two. Fullerton then hit a ground ball to shortstop Cody Coffey, who fired home to retire Dodds’ attempting to score, stopping the Saints rally and sealing the game for Rudyard.

“We took [Burton] out earlier due to the new pitch count rules,” said Rudyard Head Coach Jim Smith. “They were able to get a few hits and we made a few errors.”

MacDowell paced the Bulldogs’ offense, going 2-3 with three RBI. Mills and Jenerou had two hits and two RBI. Steikar chipped in with two hits and one RBI. Coffey and Tyler Spencer had one hit each. Burton pitched four innings, allowing no runs and no hits. He struck out five. Pippo pitched two innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Mayle had two hits and one RBI for the Saints. DeKeyser, Helms, Fullerton, Schultz, and Dodds had one hit each. Rickley led the team with two RBI. Fullerton pitched the first 1.2 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked two. Dodds pitched the remaining 4.1, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits. He also struck out four.

“We’re starting to play better defensively,” said Saints Head Coach Stan Helms. “Hopefully we will continue to cut down on our errors. We’ve really been stressing the importance of playing sound fundamentals and helping our pitching out.”

In game two, St. Ignace jumped out to a 3-1 lead, but Rudyard rallied with five runs in the final two innings to win 6-3. In the top of the first inning, Preston Mayle singled home Kenny Rickley to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Rudyard tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Cody Coffey scored on an overthrow after stealing third base. St. Ignace added single runs on a passed ball in the second inning and a throwing error after a Mayle double in the third. The Saints maintained the 3-1 lead until the bottom of the fourth, when the Bulldogs scored three times. Rudyard’s Dylan Mills doubled to lead off the inning and was driven home on an RBI single by Jakob Steikar. Steikar scored on a Jace Jenerou single to tie the game 3-3. With runners on second and third, Saints’ pitcher Preston Mayle forced a ground out back to the mound that kept the runners from scoring, and recorded the second out when Jenerou tried to score on a bunt by Burton. After catching Burton in a rundown between first and second, Trent MacDowell scored before St. Ignace could record the out. Rudyard ended the inning with a 4-3 lead. Rudyard added two more runs in the fifth on a sacrifice bunt by Spencer Pippo and an RBI double by Steikar. The Saints had two hits in the final inning, but stranded both on the base paths.

Mayle finished 2-3 with one RBI. Logan DeKeyser also had two hits. Rickley and France had one each. Mayle pitched four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits, while striking out five and walking none.

“Sam [Fullerton] and Preston [Mayle] both pitched great games, especially Preston in game two,” said Coach Helms. “Our batting is getting better, but we’re never satisfied. Hopefully we will start to produce all the way through the lineup.”

For Rudyard, Steikar was 2-3 with two RBI. Mills had two hits, while Jenerou, Burton, and Gavin Smith had one each. Coffey pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out eight and walked four. Robert Malaski struck out the only batter he faced.

“St. Ignace is looking better than in years past. In game two, their pitcher threw well and as we have all season, we struggled to hit the ball off of decent pitching,” said Coach Smith. “We have cut down on our strikeouts quite a bit. Hopefully we can get hot at the right time going into the tournament. I believe we can play with anyone in the state, as long as we put the ball in play.”

District play begins Friday, June 2, as teams look to make a run to the state finals in East Lansing.

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