OTTAWA — In the final week before the beginning of the baseball postseason, a coach wants to have as many players on his club as possible playing well in all phases, all facets, all styles of the game.
If Tuesday's Tri-County Conference finale is any indication, Marquette coach Todd Hopkins has just such a team.
While three pitchers were solid in limiting visiting Henry-Senachwine to just seven hits, the rest of the Crusaders were scoring in five of the six innings played by banging out 17 hits — three each by Nate Melvin, Logan Komater and Nick Melvin and two by Jack Snook, driving in four runs — and playing flawless defense to register a 14-4, six-inning victory over the Mallards here at Masinelli Field.
The game, in which MA worked on smallball by executing three sacrifice bunts, two of them suicide squeezes when the game was still close, ended with a flourish via five runs in the bottom of the sixth. In that frame, Bryce Foster capped the day by clubbing a walk-off double to score junior Jack Durdan, who pinch hit a single, and senior Sam McGrath, who drew a pinch walk and slid head-first into home plate with the game-ending tally.
"We were able to work on the short game today, and we did a pretty good job of it. The pitchers threw well, and we'd like to be swinging the bats better like anyone would, but hopefully we'll keep doing what we need to do and it'll keep going just like this.
"Staying focused, that's the main thing."
An RBI single by Luke Couch in the first got the Cru going, and a run-scoring double by Kyle Cook, a suicide squeeze by Couch and a successful double steal by Nate Melvin and Cook made it 4-1 after two. An erred Snook grounder, two more Mallard errors, one on another squeeze bunt by Nick Melvin and an RBI hit by Nate Melvin added three in the third frame.
A two-run single by Snook in the fourth set up the big finish, in which a single by Michael Killelea, a Snook triple and a Nick Melvin hit started it. Jack Durdan's single and McGrath's walk loaded the bases for a Komater RBI single and Foster's game-ending two-bagger to straightaway center.
On the bump, sophomore John Thompson showed great focus in his four innings, striking out seven and allowing just three hits before yielding to freshman Shane Reynolds for a scoreless fifth. Junior Connor Durdan allowed two runs in the top of the sixth as Henry closed to within 9-4, but the big finish erased that.
"I'm more concerned about cleaning up the defense than with the fight," said Henry coach Matt Emmons. "I'm glad with the fight we showed. We didn't lay down and die, but we're not going to win a lot of ballgames with six errors and other mental ones that didn't go in the book. That's a good Marquette team and when you make mistakes, good teams are going to make you pay every time.
"Jake did a good job, threw strikes and did his job, but unfortunately our defense didn't show up."
At Masinelli Field, Ottawa
Marquette 14, Henry-Senachwine 4, 6 inn.
HENRY-SEN. (4) — Smith 1b 3-1-2-0, Garrison cf-p 2-1-1-1, Condit ss 3-0-0-0, Boucher 3b 3-0-1-1, Self c 3-0-1-1, Rhoades p-lf 3-1-1-0, Downey dh 2-0-1-1, Newhalfen lf 0-0-0-0, Lee 2b 0-1-0-0, Rumbold rf 2-0-0-0. Totals 21-4-7-4.
MARQUETTE (14) — Na. Melvin ss 4-3-3-1, J. Durdan ph 1-1-1-0, Couch 2b 4-0-1-2, McGrath ph 0-1-0-0, Komater cf 4-1-3-1, Foster 3b 4-1-1-2, Dyche c 4-1-1-0, Killelea 1b 2-1-1-0, Snook rf 4-2-2-3, Ni. Melvin dh 3-3-3-1, Thompson p 0-0-0-0, Reynolds p 0-0-0-0, C. Durdan p 0-0-0-0, Cook rf 4-1-1-1. Totals 34-14-17-11.
Henry-Sen. (9-11, 3-8) 011 002 — 4 7 5
Marquette (23-2, 11-1) 133 205 — 14 17 0
LOB - Henry-Senachwine 2, Marquette 7. 2B - Smith, Komater, Foster, Cook. 3B - Snook. SAC - Couch, Foster, Killelea. SF - Garrison. SB - Rhoades, Na. Melvin 2, Couch. HBP - Killelea (by Rhoades), Komater (by Wilkinson).
Henry-Senachwine ip r er h bb k
Rhoades (L) 4.0 9 5 11 0 1
Wilkinson 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
Garrison 0.2 5 5 6 1 0
Thompson (W) 4.0 2 2 3 1 7
Reynolds 1.0 0 0 0 1 2
C. Durdan 1.0 2 2 4 0 2