Saline moved to 9-0 in the SEC Red Wednesday with a 9-2 victory over Monroe at Saline High School.
While the Hornets won the game and swept the season series from Monroe, Saline coach Scott Theisen wasn’t impressed with the team’s performance. Theisen’s displeasure stemmed from the Hornets’ play in the top of the first, when the Hornets needed five outs to retire Monroe. The Trojans led 2-0. It didn’t take the Hornets long to overcome the early lead. Still, Theisen wasn’t happy.
“You’re playing with fire if you’re going to start like that against a good team,” Theisen said. “These guys were at the regional last year. They ought to know you can’t take a day a off.”
Josh Nelson struggled with control at times, walking three and hitting a batter in five innings, but he gave up only a single hit and he overpowered the Trojans at times, striking out seven. Both runs scored were unearned. John Holt pitched two innings of scoreless relief. He allowed two hits and hit one batter.
At the plate, the Hornets were led by Thomas Miller, Michael Schuby, Ted Eppinga and Ryan Foley. Miller was 3-for-4 with a home run, double, two RBI and three runs scored. Schuby had three hits, two stolen bases and he scored twice. Foley and Eppinga both went 2-for-3, with Foley scoring twice and Eppinga driving in two runs.
Monroe scored twice in the first. The lead-off hitter reached base on an error. After a pop out, Nelson walked Huffman. Nelson struck out Rickle but McCart singled home Spare. Monroe added another run when Saline made an error while a pinch runner was trying to steal home.
Saline got one back in the bottom of the first. With one out, Thomas Miller jacked a pitch over the left-field fence.
“He threw me a high fastball. I time it up pretty good and I kind of knew it was gone off the bat,” Miller said. “It felt good to hit one out.”
Saline took the lead in the bottom of the third. Schuby singled to center and took second on a balk. Cole Daniels walked. Ryan Foley singled to right, scoring Schuby to tie the game. Tim Eppinga singled to bring in two runs and give Saline a 4-2 lead.
The Hornets scored two more in the fourth. Miller and Schuby singled to put runners on the corners. Miller stole second. Jacob Finkbeiner singled to score them both. Saline led 6-2.
In the top of the fifth, Nelson benefitted from good defense. With one out and a runner on first, Schuby caught a line drive at second base and then threw to first for the doubleplay.
Saline added two more runs in the fifth. Zach Scwartzenberger singled to right. He scored on Miller’s double. Miller scored on a wild pitch.
John Holt entered in the sixth. He got into a little trouble when Huffman singled. But the next hitter slapped a sharply hit ball to Miller at short. Miller caught it and tossed it to Schuby at second for one out. He relayed to Eppinga at first for the second out. Holt allowed a single and then hit a batter to put two runners on. But he got the third out on a ground ball to second.
Saline scored their ninth run in the sixth. Foley led with a single. He stole second. Kellen Huang walked. Schwartzenberger drove in Foley with a two-out-single.
At 9-0 in the SEC and just two losses overall, Miller is generally satisfied with the way the team is playing.
“We’re playing well. The pitching is coming around. John (Holt) is pitching better. We just have to keep hitting and playing defense and we’re going to be fine,” Miller said.
1. Thomas Miller - Sharp defense. Power hitting. And smart baserunning. Can't ask anything more from your shortstop.
2. Josh Nelson - Allowed two unearned runs in the first but went five more innings without giving up an earned run. Nelson allowed just one hit.
3. Michael Schuby -- Led the Hornets in hits during the three-game series. Schuby also ran the bases well.