Helias uses defense, pitching to down Waynesville 3-1

Helias’ Joe Reinkemeyer turns a double play during the second inning of Monday’s game against Waynesville at the American Legion Sports Complex.

Helias’ Joe Reinkemeyer turns a double play during the second inning of Monday’s game against Waynesville at the American Legion Sports Complex. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

Pitching and defense can take you a long way in baseball.

On Tuesday, it took the Helias Crusaders to the win column.

“If you can pitch and play defense, you’re always going to be in a game,” Helias coach Chris Wyrick said after the Crusaders topped the Waynesville Tigers 3-1 at the American Legion Sports Complex. “It just comes down to the basics. In high school, it can come down to who makes the fewest mistakes.”

The Crusaders took advantage of a pair of Tiger errors to score two of their three runs in an otherwise evenly played game.

“When they have (Zach) York or (Ethan) Howser on the mound, that’s a very good team,” Wyrick said. “They put the ball in play, they try to steal bases, they scratch for runs.

“They are going to be a tough out for somebody in their district tournament.”

It was scoreless going into the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Alex Barton singled for the Crusaders. Courtesy runner Christian Hake then stole second. After a strikeout, Hake moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when the catcher threw the ball into left field.

After Waynesville tied it in the sixth, the Crusaders needed just two pitches to regain the lead in its half of the inning when Trevor Schnieders belted a York pitch over the fence in left-center for Helias’ first home run of the season.

“There was no doubt about that one,” Wyrick said, estimating the ball went at least 370 feet. “He hit it well.”

Barton then reached on an error. Hake, again running for Barton, moved to second on a single by Todd Buschjost before scoring on an wild throw to first after a grounder to third off the bat of Jordan Backes.

Helias, which had six hits in the contest, stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first five innings.

“We could have done a little more at the plate,” Wyrick said. “We gave up too many at-bats, left a few too many runners on base.”

Schnieders went the distance to get the victory on the mound. He finished with a five-hitter, walking two and striking out three. Schnieders threw 108 pitches, 69 for strikes.

“Trevor threw another good game,” Wyrick said.

It was another solid defensive effort from the Crusaders, who turned a pair of double plays and had Barton throw out two base stealers from behind the plate.

“Our defense has really stepped it up the past few games,” Wyrick said. “They’re aggressive and playing with confidence out there. If we can play catch, we’re going to get a lot of outs because our pitchers work to contact and keep us on our toes.”

Helias (14-4) wraps up the regular season Thursday at Sedalia Smith-Cotton.

“We want to keep sharp,” Wyrick said. “We had a heck of an edge going before this last batch of rain came with some solid wins. I think we may have lost it, but we’re trying to get it back because when we play with that, we can be pretty good.”

The Crusaders are the No. 2 seed in the Class 5 District 9 Tournament, which starts Saturday at Vivion Field. Helias gets a first-round bye before facing either third-seeded Jefferson City or sixth-seeded Camdenton on Monday.

“It’s nice to get that bye in a single-elimination format where anything can happen,” Wyrick said.

Waynesville is now 6-16.

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