Schnieders hurls Fatima past Holden

Nolan Bax of Fatima is surrounded and congratulated by teammates and coaches after hitting a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning in Tuesday’s Class 3 sectional against Holden in Westphalia.

Nolan Bax of Fatima is surrounded and congratulated by teammates and coaches after hitting a grand slam in the top of the seventh inning in Tuesday’s Class 3 sectional against Holden in Westphalia. Photo by Shaun Zimmerman.

WESTPHALIA — Patrick Schnieders has his priorities straight on the baseball diamond.

Among the laundry list of individual feats accomplished Tuesday night by the Fatima senior, none of them were at the top.

Not Joe Crede’s school single-season hits record he broke. Not the three-hit, one-RBI effort at the plate. Not the complete-game shutout of the state’s No. 2-ranked team.

No. 1 in his mind? The win.

“It means a little bit, but all I’m concerned about now is just winning,” Schnieders said after Fatima blasted Holden 8-0 in a Class 3 sectional game. “I’ll think about that later.”

The win sends Fatima to a rare state quarterfinal appearance. The Comets will travel to take on Maryville (6-10) at 5 p.m. today.

Schnieders shut down a Holden squad that came in averaging more than nine runs per game. The Comets’ right-hander allowed just four hits in seven innings of work, struck out seven and walked two.

“What a game by him,” Fatima head coach Scott Kilgore said. “What more can I say? The kid’s getting it done. He’s really dialed in, he’s focused and he’s hungry. He wants to keep rolling. What more can a coach ask for? What more can a coach dream of at this point?”

Probably not much more. In two postseason games in 2013, Schnieders has pitched 14 straight scoreless frames, allowed just five hits, struck out 18 and walked three.

“I love pitching on a big stage and against good teams,” he said.

Not only was Schnieders dominant on the mound, he more than held his own at the plate. Schnieders went 3-for-5 with an RBI base hit. With a two-out single in the top of the first, Schnieders broke Crede’s school record for most hits in a single season. Crede set the mark at 40. Schnieders’ first hit gave him 41, meaning he currently sits at 43 hits and counting.

Not only was Schnieders at his best, the rest of the Comets were too.

Ryan Mebruer provided all the offense Fatima needed with a solo home run to left field leading off the top of the second inning.

“It was nice to break out and score first,” Kilgore said. “We want to score first, and we did. Especially against a team that’s traveling a long way. If we can jump on them and get them down, that’s to our advantage.”

Schnieders added the RBI single in the second to make it 2-0.

And while Fatima continued to rack up hits and put runners on base in every inning, Holden’s Dylan Riley was able to keep the Comets in check until the seventh. The senior tossed a whopping 149 pitches.

Holden’s best chance to even things up came in the bottom of the fifth. A walk and a single with one out meant the Eagles were in business. That’s when Fatima’s defense saved the day.

Shortstop Brady Weber turned what looked to be a sure base hit (and run-scoring single) into a force out at second base with a diving stop in the hole. His flip to second for the out left Holden with runners on the corners and two out.

The trouble wasn’t over yet. Yet again, the Comets’ defense was there to keep Holden off the board. Mebruer made a terrific diving catch on a hard liner to center field that would have surely brought home a run and possibly tied the game had the junior not made the play.

“I’ve got to hand it to my defense,” Schnieders said. “That was amazing. Good plays all over the field and I couldn’t have done with without them.”

Said Kilgore: “The defense in the fifth was huge. Saved two runs.”

While Fatima’s defense proved a game-saver, Holden’s let the game get out of hand in the seventh.

Fatima loaded the bases with singles from Seth Lehmen and Mebruer and a walk to Logan Vogel. Sam Hager then sent a sharp grounder to third, and while Holden did manage to get the forceout at home, the catcher’s throw to first went wild, allowing a run to score. After a walk to Will Robertson loaded the bases again, another grounder led to a force play at home. This time the catcher dropped the ball, allowing a run to score and leave the bases loaded.

Nolan Bax put the icing on the cake with a grand slam to right-center to make it 8-0. Instead of Holden heading to bat down just two, an insurmountable eight-run deficit stood in the way.

Schnieder set down the side in order to secure the win.

Now sixth-ranked Fatima (20-5) will look to clinch a spot in the Final Four for the first time since 1996.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Please review our Policies and Procedures before registering or commenting

News Tribune - comments