Varsity baseball heads to Vero Beach, Fla. for first games of the year

St. Louis U. High baseball is back. With the sour taste of a 1-0 loss in last year’s district championship still lingering on their tongues, the Jr. Bills took to Vero Beach, Fla. for the second consecutive year. 

SLUH baseball poses with the #2 team nationally, Tampa Jesuit. photo | Courtesy of SLUH Baseball

After arriving Tuesday night at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex (JRTC), the team spent the next three days practicing in preparation for Opening Day on Friday. Following morning workouts on Thursday, the Jr. Bills headed down to Jupiter to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play a Spring Training game against the Houston Astros. With the intent of studying the pros, the team enjoyed the afternoon off from practices and away from the complex. 

“As we began to play and practice, it was evident that all the new guys on the Varsity team were able to adapt very quickly to the culture and helped mesh us all together,” said senior Grant Kuhn. 

Rocking the green St. Patrick’s Day uniforms, the Jr. Bills took the field on Friday against North Catholic (Penn.). Father Sheridan C.O.R.E of the Team Award Winner Garrett Shearer started on the mound for game one. Limited to a pitch count of 35 pitches, Shearer tossed two innings, allowing one hit and one run while striking out five of the seven batters he faced. 

On top of that, the team was able to put up an impressive 6 runs over seven innings with a culmination of hits from several players. Despite the impeccable performance from the Jr. Bills ace, they struggled to maintain any lead and ended up allowing the North Catholic Trojans to battle back and force a 6-6 tie. 

That night, they faced a fellow St. Louis area team, Westminster, under the lights. As the away team, the Jr. Bills quickly put up an impressive five runs before sending senior Parker Guthrie to the mound. Behind a dominant two innings from him, the Jr. Bills went on to beat Westminster 16-4 for their first win of the season. 

The next day, the Jr. Bills went back out onto the diamond to face Loomis Chaffee (Conn.), the number one ranked team in the northeast. Despite an impressive beginning from starter senior Michael Baudendistel, the team fell into a 9-1 hole. However, the offense provided a pushback behind a triple to the wall from senior Nick Heinlein. The small surge proved too little too late and the Jr. Bills lost 9-4. 

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Jr. Bills faced off against St. Alban Roe (DC). Heading into the seventh and final inning, the team was down 3-0. Down to their final out, the Jr. Bills sparked a rally and a hit from Shearer knocked in the tying run. However, the Jr. Bills allowed a run in the eighth and failed to match it, losing by the final score of 4-3. 

“Although we had some losses that probably could have been wins, Spring Training provided a fantastic opportunity for us to get some good reps in and allowed a lot of playtime for the whole team,” said junior Evan Pierce. 

Following two days filled with several games, the Jr. Bills drove to Tampa on Sunday morning. They spent Sunday going to Mass at Tampa Jesuit High School, taking a tour of their campus, and spending the evening in Clearwater. 

“Looking at Tampa Jesuit and getting to see a school in Florida that is so similar to SLUH was cool. We got to play some very good teams the entire time we were down there and I think it gave us a very good idea as to what we need to work on.” 

On Monday, the final day of their trip, the players slept in before a quick practice at Tampa Jesuit. Later that night, the Jr. Bills returned and faced their hosts, the number four team in the nation. Despite solid outings from Shearer, Guthrie, and junior Andrew DuMont, the Jr. Bills defense and offense failed, as they lost 8-0. 

The Spring Training trip provided an experience for the team to get extra practice and face off against several top teams. Despite leaving the trip 1-3-1, the Jr. Bills kicked off their season with promising hopes of a successful season. 

The Jr. Bills look to come off their Spring Training experience as they face Edwardsville tonight and Eureka tomorrow. 

“The trip was really great,” said Kuhn. “The boys got some really good work in and figured out what we need to work on. Although our record doesn’t reflect it, we played very well and had some tough competition.”




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