It seems the Mater Dei Knights were more than a little angry following their first loss of the high school baseball season on Saturday.
The Knights followed up that 3-0 loss to Belleville East two days ago by hammering Althoff 10-0 in five innings Monday as pitcher Austin Winter took a no-hitter into the bottom of the fifth before surrendering a one-out single.
Winter (3-0, 1.94 earned-run average) struck out seven and allowed only three baserunners all afternoon. The other two were on a walk and an error.
“We kind of ran into a wall Saturday and just didn’t get it done offensively,” Mater Dei coach Travis Gebke said after the Knights — ranked second in the BND Small-School Baseball Poll — improved to 13-1-1. “We talked about how we needed to be more aggressive and go back to attacking the baseball like we had been. Today we really did a good job of that.
“It just seemed like we had a little bit of a different look today getting in the box. The kids were frustrated after getting shut out Saturday in that second game so they were really looking forward to play again.”
We talked about how we needed to be more aggressive and go back to attacking the baseball like we had been. Today we really did a good job of that.
Mater Dei coach Travis Gebke
An unsuspecting fifth-ranked Althoff squad never had a chance to get things going.
Mater Dei pounded out four hits and two runs in the first against Althoff starter Rorey Keen (2-3), who allowed seven hits and seven runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings.
“They came out ready to play, we didn’t,” Althoff coach Randy Wells said after his team fell to 9-6. “We’ve been talking about it all year long, getting up for games, being ready to go from the first pitch. They showed what a team that does that looked like today. They came out swinging and put us down early — and the way we’ve been hitting and the way that kid pitched, we were done from the start.”
Mater Dei leadoff hitter Bryce Beckmann had two hits, reached base four times and scored three runs. Junior catcher Wil Rakers smacked a pair of doubles and had an RBI, senior outfielder Brady Rakers was 2-for-3 with an RBI single and two-run homer in the fifth and Colin Schuetz had two RBIs.
Wil Rakers said Winter’s fastball was the dominant pitch.
“His fastball was really good,” Rakers said. “It was tailing; it down in the zone, down and away. His curveball was there when it needed to be. I didn’t know he had a no-hitter going in the fifth inning until the ump told me that.”
We’ve been talking about it all year long, getting up for games, being ready to go from the first pitch. They showed what a team that does that looked like today.
Althoff coach Randy Wells
Althoff pinch-hitter James Simoneaux broke up Winter’s no-hit bid with one out in the bottom of the fifth on a clean single to right field. Winter admitted the no-no was on his mind.
“Yeah, towards the end I was thinking about it a little bit,” he said. “It helps when the offense goes out and gets you runs in the first inning before you even throw a pitch.”
Mater Dei lost twice to Althoff in football and once in boys basketball, so the baseball win finally turned things around.
“This is huge,” Winter said. “We’re playing real well right now. We had a tough loss on Saturday, so it’s big to get a nice bounce-back win, especially against Althoff here.”
Five Althoff errors contributed to the lopsided defeat, as did Mater Dei’s 10 hits and ability to spray the ball around Whitey Herzog Field.
Beckmann (.500, eight doubles, two triples, nine RBIs) and Wil Rakers (.467, two homers, team-leading 19 RBIs) have been solid offensively all season, according to Gebke.
“Wil’s been a constant here since Game No. 1 of the year,” Gebke said. “He’s done a real good job at putting together good at-bats, but he’s starting to get more and more power. He’s coming on here.”
Wells, a former Chicago Cubs pitcher, was also impressed with Winter’s pitching.
“He did exactly what we try to teach,” Wells said. “Pitch with the fastball and when you get the fastball established, you can flip that curveball. When you pitch strikes and when you’re ahead in the count, you can flip that curve ball you can keep guys off balance.
“We didn’t have the bats going today and they put it on us.”