By Nate Thompson
One reason is because the undefeated Crusaders have 10 or 11 players capable of doing damage at the plate.
The Crusaders improved their record to 10-0 overall with a sweep of Lakes 8 Conference rival Orchard View on Tuesday on their home field.
The MCC bats were booming in the opener, when they grabbed a 12-7 victory. Tom Karter had two hits and three RBIs for MCC, while Nolan Convertini had two hits and scored three runs.
Game 2 was more of a pitcher’s dual, with the Crusaders taking a 4-1 victory
But even in the second game, when the Crusaders only managed five hits, they still put the ball in play a lot, resulting in six OV errors.
“It’s really one through 10 or 11 deep,” MCC Coach Steve Schuitema said of his hitters. “We started nine kids and then had two reserves play in the second game, so 11 different kids, and we had a lot of kids come through. And we have some speed, along with some real savvy base runners.”
MCC junior Carson Bleicher said the Crusaders have improved significantly at the plate, compared to a year ago.
“Last year, we had only like two guys who were necessarily good hitters, like hitting over .300,” he said. “This year, it’s the whole lineup. I’m not even hitting very well, but my teammates are coming through. It’s exciting.”
Bleicher played a very big role on the mound in the Game 2 victory, allowing just four hits and no runs in six strong innings.
He heaped praise on the defense behind him, which got him out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, and only had one error the rest of the way.
“It’s incredible,” Bleicher said of the defensive effort. “I did not get very many swings and misses, but our outfield was making a lot of plays. It’s a lot easier to throw (with a strong defense). I’m not worried at all. I know I just have to throw strikes and those guys will make all the plays behind me.”
In Game 2, MCC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an error, and added another in the second on an RBI groundout from Gabe Flood.
The Cardinals threatened by loading the bases in the fourth, but Bleicher buckled down and recorded a fly out, strikeout and another fly out. The last out came on a nice running catch by left fielder Navarre Klint to keep OV scoreless.
It remained a 2-0 game until the fifth inning, when the Crusaders scored twice, thanks to a walk and three Cardinal errors.
Schuitema brought in Ryan Gallings to relieve Bleicher in the seventh. He allowed an opening walk and later an RBI single to the Cardinals’ Owen Swanson, but got the next batter to ground out to end the contest.