Noah Nelson stroked three hits and scored three runs and Ryan Steinhauer pitched five strong innings as Saline defeated Pioneer, 6-1, to sweep the season series and charge to a 3-0 record in the SEC Red.
Saline defeated Pioneer, 5-2 and 4-0, in Monday’s doubleheader at Pioneer.
“Stein gave us a great outing. We were kind of flat throughout the game, but we got the job done. We weren’t as clean, defensively, but any time you open the SEC 3-0, I’m just nitpicking, right? So, it’s all good,” coach Al Zeiher said.
Wednesday’s contest was a close affair until the Hornets broke through for four runs in the fifth inning. Ryan Steinhauer went five innings, giving up one earned run on two hits and three walks. The senior lefty struck out out three. The Hornets also made four errors in the field.
Steinhauer struggled through control issues early before settling in.
“I was a little wild. I couldn’t get ahead of hitters and struggled with my offspeed. But I found my offspeed as I went deeper in the game. I was able to mow down hitters and get ahead,” Steinhauer said.
Saline took the lead in the bottom of the first. Noah Nelson led off with a double to left. He took third on a wild pitch. Aidan Corrigan walked. Alex Morrison flew out to center, allowing Nelson to tag up and score.
Steinhauer had to pitch out of jam in the second. With one out, Pioneer loaded the bases with an infield single and two errors. Steinhauer struck out the next batter on three pitches and then got a groundball to the mound for the third out.
The Pioneers tied the game in the top of third. Brendan Karsch led with a walk. Noah Kotre roped a double to left, putting runners at second and third. Wyatt Raymond lined to center. Morrison caught the ball for the out and relayed to catcher Cam Daniels at the plate but Karsch scored. With a runner on third, Steinhauer escaped further damage by striking out Ben Stidham and getting a pop fly to Jack O’Keefe at first base.
Saline regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the third. Nelson opened the inning with an infield single to short. Pioneer botched a doubleplay ball and Saline had runners at first and second. Nelson and Corrigan executed the double steal. Morrison walked to load the bases. Aidan Arbaugh drove home Nelson with ground ball to first. The Hornets couldn’t bring home any more runs.
It didn’t matter, because Steinhauer had settled in. He induced four ground balls to the infield in the top of the fourth – three of which resulted in outs and a fourth which resulted in a Pioneer reaching on an error. It was the same deal in the fifth. Four ground balls to the infield. One error. Three outs.
In the bottom of the inning, Saline rallied for four runs.
Once again, it was Nelson leading the charge. He singled to left and took second on an error. Corrigan was hit by a pitch. Morrison singled to center, scoring Nelson. Arbaugh loaded the bases with a sharply hit ball to right. The Pioneers got Logan Evans to hit into a 1-2-3 doubleplay. But the inning continued when Daniels was hit in the back with a pitch, loading the bases again. Brad Baldus walked, forcing home the fourth run.
Pinch-hitter Luke Rykard, with two strikes, fouled off a couple pitches before hitting a two-run double to right.
In the sixth, Jack O’Keefe relieved Steinhauer, who’d walked the lead-off hitter. O’Keefe got the next batter on a pop up to Bobby Butler at third. Pioneer looked like they might rally when Sean Knorr singled to right, putting runners at first and second. But O’Keefe picked off the runner at second base. It saved a run, too, because the next batter singled. O’Keefe struck out the next batter to end the inning. O’Keefe pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing two hits. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out two.
Saline, 8-3, returns to action Saturday with a doubleheader at Northville – in a rematch of the 2017 state championship game.
The Saline Post 3 Stars
- Noah Nelson – The Hornets scored runs in three innings. In each of those innings, Nelson got things started with a hit and came around to score. Nelson also called for the ball and applied the tag on Jack O’Keefe’s pick off at second base in the sixth inning.
- Ryan Steinhauer – The lefty struggled with control early, but allowed just two hits and one run. He pitched out of two jams when it was still a close game.
- Alex Morrison – Had an RBI single and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly. Morrison also walked. In the field, he nearly gunned down the runner at the plate, which would have prevented Pioneer’s only run from crossing the plate.