Big bats boost Monarchs to sweep
By NICK McQUEEN
Carrying a .369 on-base percentage, the Thomas More Prep-Marian baseball lineup has been a tough out all season.
But what Monarch coach Brian Schumacher was excited about most, other than a pair of run-rule victories against Ellis on Monday at Larks Park, was how hard his team hit the ball.
The Monarchs collected 25 hits Monday -- seven for extra bases -- and defeated the Railers, 10-0 (6 innings), and 11-1 (5 innings) to push their record to 13-5.
Ellis, with just 10 players on the roster, dropped to 10-6.
"We played a lot better than what we have in the past," Schumacher said. "We've faced some pitching that hasn't been as good as what we faced today, and didn't hit the ball as well as we did."
The Monarchs were also on the positive side of nine walks through the twin bill, and produced the bulk of their runs in the later innings to set the run-rule in both contests.
First-year Railer coach Shawn Lewick said his pitchers probably walked fewer than 10 batters all season, but struggled to get anything going Monday -- coming off a split last week against previously unbeaten Minneaola, the top ranked team in Class 2-1A.
"We just didn't come out to play today," Lewick said. "Our pitching is good. Today, it wasn't good. We're first-, second-pitch strike team. Today, we were first-pitch ball, second-pitch ball."
In Game 1 against Railer senior Cole Pfeifer, the Monarchs had a triple in the first and second innings, and took a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Ryan Schippers started his hot day at the plate with an RBI-triple in the first inning, and then freshman Justin Pfeifer, making just his fifth varsity appearance, connected on a triple to lead off the second.
"The fact we were driving the ball for extra hits, and that's something we haven't done for most of the season," Schumacher said.
Junior Cameron Brin (4-1) was solid on the hill for TMP. Brin walked four and hit a batter, but gave up just two Railer hits through all six innings.
In the fourth inning, the walks started coming against Ellis. Cole Pfeifer walked two in the fourth, but got out of the inning. Then in the fifth, he gave up a single and two walks before being relieved by junior Scott Pfeifer. He walked two more, and TMP collected two free runs on RBI walks.
"That really hurt us -- just the little errors," Lewick said. "TMP is great. They have a lot of good young athletes and they know the game."
The Monarchs ended the game with five hits in the sixth inning as Ellis never recorded an out.
In Game 2 against Monarch senior Shane Zimmerman, the lone Monarch senior to be honored on Senior Day, Ellis took a brief 1-0 lead after an error against Brin.
But, Zimmerman sent his fourth offering in the Monarchs' first to deep right center for a leadoff triple, and TMP eventually took a 2-1 lead.
Railer sophomore starter Brandon Bollig gave up four runs on five hits and walked one through three innings, and the Monarchs led 4-1.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman (4-3) allowed only six baserunners-- three coming in the fifth inning.
TMP, after an RBI double in the fourth by Zimmerman, set the run-rule in the fifth when Schippers drove in a run with a single. Sophomore Braiden Werth also had a two-RBI single in the inning. Schippers finished his day 6 for 8 with four RBIs, a double an a triple. Werth had five hits and drove in three runs, and had a double.
Zimemrman (4-3) collected the win in five innings. He struck out one, walked one and allowed one hit. Bollig took the loss, surrendering four runs on six hits with one walk.
TMP travels to Colby for a 4 p.m. doubleheader Thursday.
Ellis, which had won five of its previous six games, also has one doubleheader left before the Class 2-1A regional. The Railers travel to Lincoln on Thursday.
"We have a few kids that are up and down," Lewick said. "If we can get everyone on the same page, we're going to be a hard team to beat."