Manistee Saints advances to the NB Baseball World Championship

Written by Greg Gelczyk

Battle of Al Khor – Lucas Richardson produced the biggest hit of the 13 collected by Manistee Saints in Friday’s afternoon game against the Hackensack Troasts, a last-inning bottom two solos that lifted the Saints to a 6-5 win and maintained perfection. He scored in the NB Baseball World Amateur League Championships at Battle Creek.

The Saints couldn’t put any runs on the board over four rounds, and were sent swinging on their heels when the Troasts put five in fifth.

It would have been a devastating blow, perhaps even crushing. But the saints are so accustomed to being in such situations, they answer with their own four runs in the fifth.

Which set the stage for Richardson’s championships in the seventh game, with the Saints reaching the finals and desperately wanting to move into Saturday’s elimination round with some momentum.

Although the loss wouldn’t have kicked the Saints out of the tournament, it almost certainly left a sour taste in their mouths.

“We really wanted to make sure we win this game,” said player/manager Rudy McNeil. “A lot of credit to the team for the fight, and the real desire to be 3-0.

“It was really easy to be satisfied with 2-1, and I felt it was good enough. But, that wasn’t their way of thinking. It’s been like that all season.”

Saints man in the last inning, Jake Finkbeiner, drilled a liner to the center. But the following hitters retired in order, and things were looking a bit bleak.

But, as McNeill said, the Saints kept fighting.

Alex Schmidt stuck firmly to the board, working on the 3’s and 1’s before taking the fourth ball and drawing a walk. Richardson then climbed onto the board and smashed an individual to the center, sending both Finkbeiner and Schmidt home.

Nearby games are nothing new to Saints.

“We’ve been playing one time, two runs, and three times,” McNeil said. “We won some, we lost some. I think all that experience is really starting to build up.

“You get a crucial game like this, or a game you have to win, and it’s a testament to what the team has been trying to learn and develop, and do all year long.”

Dylan Bates was the benefactor of the Rally Saints, collecting the win on bowler hill, scattering four hits and conceding one round over the course of 3 innings and a third. He crossed out one.

Starter Todd Schmidt, also an assistant coach, worked the first 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs in just two strokes with two.

The Saints swept both games Thursday, defeating the South Bend Royals, 10-5 and then overcoming a three-game deficit by eight Big Six to strike back the Orioles, 12-5.

Coming to Saints is the 2 p.m. game on Saturday to kick off the series’ elimination phase. The tournament match is scheduled for Sunday.

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