Double plays help Helias rout Pacific

A double play is a pitcher’s best friend.

On Wednesday, it was particularly chummy with the Helias Crusaders.

“Especially after five hit batters and a walk,” Helias coach Chris Wyrick said after the Crusaders dispatched the Pacific Tigers 13-3 in 4 1/2 innings on Senior Day at the American Legion Sports Complex.

The Crusaders turned four double plays in the victory, including one in each of the first three innings.

“It helps when you get that first one, it gets the confidence going and it turns into a game of catch,” Wyrick said. “It’s a little thing, but they turn into big things.”

Helias starter and winner Matt Rehagen was the beneficiary of the solid defense, throwing 32⁄3 innings to get the win. Rehagen allowed three runs on two hits and two walks, while hitting four batters.

“He throws enough strikes to keep the hitters honest, enough off-speed to keep them off-balance,” Wyrick said. “He kept our defense on its toes, he threw pitches to get ground balls when he needed them.

“That’s the way he does it.”

The Crusaders finished with 18 hits in four innings. They scored four runs on five hits in the first, then added six more in the second on seven hits.

“We’ve really started attacking the zone in the last few games,” Wyrick said. “We’re not letting pitchers get away with pitches over the middle of the plate, we’re attacking them.”

Several of Helias’ big hits came when Crusader batters were down in the count or with two strikes.

“This may have been our best day of the year in those situations,” Wyrick said. “We were getting hits, driving in runs. When you can do that, it can pile up on the other team.”

Helias had five singles in the first inning, with Jordan Backes driving home two runs on his hit with two outs.

Cole Distler led off the second with a single for Helias and Trevor Schnieders followed with a stand-up triple to right-center. Todd Buschjost, Lane Caldwell, Backes and Hayden Lee also singled in the inning before Joe Reinkemeyer belted a two-run double that made it 10-0.

After Pacific got a run in its half of the third, Helias answered with two in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Backes and Brock Gerstner. Backes finished with three singles and four RBI.

Rehagen got into a bit of trouble in the fourth. He hit the first two batters, got the next two to fly out, then loaded the bases on a walk. After Lucas Surliene hit a two-run double to make it 12-3, Jared Bentlage came on in relief and got a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat.

Helias got the 10-run lead back in the bottom of the inning when Alex Barton hit a two-out single to score Bentlage, who led off with a double.

Bentlage allowed a double to start the Pacific fifth. One out later, he hit a batter, but then started a double play to end the contest.

Alex Barton also had three hits for the Crusaders. Bentlage, Schnieders, Buschjost and Hayden Lee all had two. Reinkemeyer finished with three RBI.

Buschjost, who just entered the lineup this week after having off-season surgery, scored three times and drove in two others.

“He’s an aggressive kid who understands the game and doesn’t try to do too much,” Wyrick said. “It’s good to have another aggressive bat in the lineup.”

This is one of the final chances for the Crusaders to solidify a good seed in the upcoming district tournament.

“I think people know we’re a pretty good team,” Wyrick said. “I think we’ve done everything we can to prove we’re one of the top two teams in the district.

“But we’ll have to wait and see.”

The seed meeting is Sunday for the Class 5 District 9 Tournament, hosted by Jefferson City.

Helias (13-4) will host McCluer North and Union in a doubleheader Saturday. In a schedule change, the Helias-McCluer North game has been moved to 8 a.m. Helias will then face Union around 2:45 p.m.

III

After the game, Helias honored its six seniors and their families.

“They’re a group that has stuck it out and worked hard for four years,” Wyrick said. “They’ve been some big contributors the past couple of years and we’re not done playing yet.”

Helias’ seniors include Distler, Reinkemeyer, Bentlage, Schnieders, Caldwell and Backes.

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