Down 5-0, 8th-graders battle back for 2nd title in 3 years
Sometimes one player can win a game for a team. But when a baseball team falls behind 5-0, it usually takes the entire team to win it.
That’s what happened on July 26 when the St. Mary Magdalen eighth-grade baseball team beat St. Stephen in the St. Louis Archiocesan City/County championship in Crestwood. Down 5-0 early, the Chargers’ pitchers, infielders, outfielders and hitters didn’t panic, pulled together and won 8-6.
It was a fitting ending for a group of players who have reached the title game three years in a row. They won it as sixth-graders in 2012 and lost to St. Stephens last year.
“It was just a real team effort again today and a testament to perseverance and the players believing in themselves, knowing they could get the job done, even after getting down by five runs in the first,” said team manager Pat King. “We constantly remind the boys to keep playing their hardest even in adversity, and eventually good things will happen. They certainly experienced that today.”
Trailing until Clay steals home
St. Stephen took a 5-0 lead in the first inning. The Chargers had to be wondering if the game would end up resembling the 10-4 drubbing St. Stephen administered in last year’s championship. But when Drew King smacked a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first, St. Mary Magdalen’s coaches thought it sent a message.
“We were worried the boys would be down after giving up a five spot, but the leadoff triple sent a message that we were ready, said Manager King. “It was a critical immediate answer that we wouldn’t go down without a fight.”
St. Mary Magdalen battled back with three runs in the third and two in the fourth to tie the game. Joe Clay alertly stole home to make it 6-6.
The pitchers didn’t give up either. After the Chargers’ shaky first inning, Clay and Mahoto Sasaki allowed only one more run in the next six innings.
Rush’s crush puts Chargers ahead
The game was decided with two outs in the bottom of the sixth when Cameron Rush hammered a deep fly ball to right center, missing a home run by only a few feet but scoring Rob Bax from first base for a 7-6 lead. Rush eventually scored for a two-run lead with one inning left.
With just three outs to go, pitcher Sasaki and the Chargers defense buckled down to finish the game.
Manager King marveled at how his team worked together. He said 11 Chargers got on base, seven different players crossed home plate, the outfielders recorded eight putouts and one assist, catcher Bax threw out a base runner at third and the infield defense held St. Stephen down after the first inning.
Playing in the Catholic Youth Council’s intermediate closed division, Brentwood reached the title game with a 6-1 win over St. Joseph, from Imperial, on July 20. St. Stephen is a parish in south St. Louis city. The championship was played at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in Crestwood.
The Chargers went 11-1 in their league this season. Coaches were King, Rob Doebber, Joel Scott, Jack Lynch and Marty Clay. The team comprises boys from the Brentwood area who are students at St. Mary Magdalen, Immacolata, Brentwood Middle School and the College School.
Pat King provided the photos and most of the information for this article.