TMP sweeps Goodland
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian junior second baseman Grant Romme was struggling at the plate heading into the final inning of Friday's doubleheader at Larks Park. He was 0 for 5 with a strikeout, three pop-ups and a groundout.
Then in his final at bat, the pressure was on.
Romme was leading off with his squad down 4-3, and he represented the tying run. On a 1-1 pitch, Romme squared it up and pounded a double to right-center field. His hit was significant, because it put Goodland's starter Gunner Helton in a pickle with a runner in scoring position and no outs.
Romme ended up scoring on a throwing error, and sophomore Kameron Schmidt drove in the winning run on a walk-off single to give TMP the doubleheader sweep against Goodland.
"My hip was pulling out and I just had to keep my attitude up and make sure that hip was staying in when I hit," Romme said. "Once I loosened up, in the big situation, I got hold of the ball and it happened."
TMP defeated the Cowboys 13-3 in five innings in Game 1 and used a rally in the bottom of the seventh to win 5-4 in Game 2.
Goodland head coach Devlin Mull tipped his hat to TMP (6-4). Goodland dropped to 4-6.
"You've got to take your hat off to them," Mull said. "Down in their lineup, their No. 8 hole hitter (Romme) got a double to lead off the bottom of the seventh. That's pretty tough (to work around)."
It was a strong performance overall for TMP.
The Monarchs' bats were prolific in the first game. TMP hit 10 of 24 and drew seven free bases via six walks and one hit batter.
"We looked so much better at the plate than we have the whole year," said TMP head coach Brian Schumacher. "I was so impressed with the team up and down the lineup."
TMP was extremely aggressive running bases as well. The Monarchs finished with 10 stolen bases in Game 1. To put that in perspective, TMP had 19 stolen bases combined in its first eight games.
Senior shortstop Shane Zimmerman and junior pitcher Cameron Brin played a big part in that, each stealing four bags.
"Not only are they fast, but they get a good read," Schumacher said. "... They aren't happy with being at first or second. They want to advance."
Brin (2-1) was solid on the mound after a shaky start in Game 1.
After surrendering a leadoff home run followed by three straight singles and a pair of walks later in the inning, Brin managed to escape the top of the first with just three runs on the scoreboard. From then on, he was dominant, pitching four straight scoreless innings.
Brin ended up allowing three earned runs off five hits and three walks while striking out three.
"To stay focused — a lot of guys fall apart and concede, but he didn't," Schumacher said. "We got out of that inning with three runs, and we ended up scoring four to take the lead (in the bottom of the seventh)."
Zimmerman broke his hitless streak.
In the previous four games, he was 0 for 14, but in Friday's doubleheader, he hit 3 of 5 with a double, four runs scored and five stolen bases.
Schumacher said he spoke Thursday with Zimmerman about not doing too much.
"I told him, 'Approach it like you have the last two years and don't feel anymore pressure than you have before,' " Schumacher said. "I think a lot of it is that. He feels like he has to do a lot more than he really needs to, but he is just one member of the team."
In Game 2, Schumacher said the coaching staff decided to pitch it as a staff with players switching out after two innings.
Schmidt started and was followed by Zimmerman in the third.
They were dominant in their time on the mound and mowed through Goodland's lineup, pitching four perfect innings. Schmidt and Zimmerman each had four strikeouts in two innings apiece.
Then sophomore Liam Stults was handed the ball in the fifth, and he threw a scoreless fifth. However, in the sixth, he struggled.
Stults gave up four runs (two earned) in the sixth off four hits and a walk to give Goodland a 4-3 lead late in the game.
"(Stults) just gets down on himself so much," Schumacher said. "... Whether it's pitching or batting, any of the guys, you have to tell them, 'What happens, happens. You have to look for the next batter or the next plate appearance.'"
Fortunately, TMP's offense bailed him out in the bottom of the seventh.
Romme got the leadoff double, Brin drew a walk and forced a throwing error that scored Romme, and Schmidt hit the walk-off single to give Ryan Schippers (1-0), who pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning, his first win of the season.
"We just kind of rallied back after that," Romme said. "After that, we got our heads dug in and decided to pick it up."
TMP 13, Goodland 3 (5 innings)
Goodland (4-5) 300 00 — 3 5 3
TMP (5-4) 420 52 — 13 10 1
T. Smith, Amthor (5) and K. Smith; Brin and Gottschalk. W — Brin (2-1). L — T. Smith. 2B — Schmidt, Gottschalk, TMP. 3B — Schippers, TMP. HR — Hendrich, Goodland.
TMP 5, Goodland 4
Goodland (4-6) 000 004 0 — 4 4 2
TMP (6-4) 012 000 2 — 5 9 1
Helton and K. Smith; Schmidt, Zimmerman (3), Stults (5), Schippers (7) and Gottschalk. W — Schippers (1-0). L — Helton. 2B — Werth, Romme, TMP.