Late-inning scoring defined another summer league doubleheader for Helias' second varsity squad, but Thursday evening at Babe Ruth Park the Crusaders were able to come away with a split against the Fatima Comets.
Fatima scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take the first game 5-2, and Helias plated five runs in the fourth and three in the fifth inning to turn a 7-0 deficit to an 8-7 win in the nightcap, both in six innings.
Nathan Roark took the bump for the Crusaders in the first game, tossing five innings and scattering five hits and a walk while striking out one and giving up an unearned run. His pitching, and the Helias defense, which turned a pair of double plays up the middle in the first and third innings, helped keep Fatima from gaining any momentum.
The one run came in the third, when the Comets turned their lineup over with a one-out double and a single. The run came home on an error by third baseman Drew Miller, but Ryan Klahr and Nick Jeffries turned a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning one batter later.
"Jeffries and Klahr up the middle made some great plays," Helias coach Chris Ebright said. "As long as we play the game right, throw strikes, get on base, make routine plays, we're going to win a lot of baseball games."
The Crusaders answered in the bottom of the fourth with two runs. Nick Heislen drew a leadoff walk and a grounder up the middle by Carson Hayes turned into a two-base error, putting two runners in scoring position with none out. Will Herrhold hit an RBI groundout to score Heislen and Hayes won the race to the plate on a wild pitch to give Helias a 2-1 lead.
Fatima's bats would not stay quiet, though. In the top of the sixth, Jake Boyce and Gage Cunningham drew leadoff walks and Brandon Dulle hit an RBI double to right-center to tie the game against Billy Underwood. Cunningham came home on a wild pitch, and Dulle scored on a fielder's choice.
Comets' reliever Max Buscher gave up a two-out single but otherwise navigated the bottom of the sixth smoothly.
Fatima picked up right where they left off in Game 2 as the home team, plating three runs on three hits in the first inning — a single by Boyce and doubles by Cunningham and Jaden Hoskins — and three runs on four hits in the second inning — singles by Dean Hagenhoff, Buscher, Dawson Woehr and Boyce — to take a 6-0 lead against Klahr, the Crusaders' starter.
Branden Scheulen got the ball to start the third, and though the Comets made it 7-0 on a pair of singles, he gave up just one hit during the next three innings, and retired each of the last nine batters he faced to close out the game on the mound.
"Very impressive," Ebright said of the outings by Roark and Scheulen. "They got into a couple of jams, but you know what, they stayed focused, threw the ball over the plate, trusted their D. I was really impressed with both those arms, also really impressed with some of the defensive plays we made.
"Scheulen was great, Roark was great. Good things in the future for them."
Helias fought back once Fatima starter Dalton Gentges left after the third inning. The Crusaders batted around in the fourth inning, which included hits from Heislen, Logan Wilson, Connor Wilbers, Kaden Hampson and Sam Schell. Scheulen, Underwood and Cole Peters each drew walks in the inning to keep the lineup moving.
In the top of the fifth, Gage Wilde, Underwood and Wilson each hit singles, and Scheulen and Peters again drew walks. Both of Peters' walks came with the bases loaded.
"What I'm most proud of is that we were down (seven) nothing," Ebright said. "And these guys came back, after a tough loss in the first game, these guys battled back in the second, and I've said it this whole summer, our guys don't give up."
Hampson finished the day 4-for-5 with two RBI, while in the second game Schell hit 2-for-4, Wilson hit 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, Wilde hit 1-for-4 with two runs, Scheulen and Underwood were both 1-for-1 with two runs, Peters was 0-for-1 with two RBI and a run, Wilbers hit 1-for-3 with an RBI and Jeffries added an RBI sac fly.
For Fatima, Boyce hit 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored across both games, Trey Herzing was 2-for-6 with an RBI and Hagenhoff hit 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run. Hoskins, who only played in the second game, was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.