Gaels pull through

St. Edmond did just enough to regain its winning form on the baseball diamond here Friday night.

Snapping a mini two-game slide, the sixth-ranked (Class 2A) Gaels (5-2 overall, 2-2 NCC) narrowly escaped with a 2-1 North Central Conference victory over Clarion-Goldfield at Rogers Sports Complex.

“We’re not swinging the bats well right now, and we’re chasing some pitches out of the (strike) zone,” SEHS head coach Joe Shanks said. “We have a lot of guys that haven’t seen much varsity pitching up until now, and we’ve struggled to consistently put balls in play. We just have to clear our heads and see the baseball better.”

Senior Hank Crimmins (3-0) went the distance on the hill for St. Edmond, allowing only four hits and one earned run. Crimmins walked two and fanned a career-high 12, throwing 67 of his 104 pitches for strikes. Crimmins actually held the Cowboys (2-4, 1-3) hitless for the first 4 1/3 innings. He retired the visitors in order through the opening three frames, while striking out the side in the sixth to work out of a jam.

“Hank had his best breaking ball of the year, along with a good fastball,” said Shanks. “His mechanics and poise on the mound were excellent.”

Offensively, the Gaels plated both of their runs against Colby Ruiter in the second inning. With two outs, sophomore No. 9 batter Michael Sharkey delivered a clutch RBI double to the right-center field gap, bringing home classmate Robert Flattery. Landon Hughett later crossed the dish on a balk call to extend the SEHS advantage.

“Michael has been looking better at the plate of late,” Shanks said. “He’s been quicker to the ball and showing more discipline.”

Reid Johnson also contributed a double for the Gaels, while Flattery and Jason Setterdahl each produced singles. St. Edmond stranded six baserunners, including five in scoring position.

Despite the loss, Ruiter (0-2) scattered four hits and two earned runs – with two walks and seven strikeouts – over six innings.

“Ruiter kept his curveball down, and never really left it up for us to hit,” said Shanks. “I thought he pitched a nice game also.”

For the Cowboys, Jarrod Littlejohn drove in Kirby Simmons with a single past a diving Sharkey at third base with two outs in the fifth. Simmons started the inning by spoiling Crimmins’ no-hit bid with a triple to deep center.

Jacob Harvey and Calen Rosenbaum both managed singles for Clarion-Goldfield. Trenton Sann, who added a stolen base, was left at third base to end the sixth after reaching on one of three SEHS errors.

“Our guys can’t afford to take anything for granted,” Shanks said. “We haven’t earned a whole lot yet just to rest on our laurels. We need to keep plugging away.”

The Gaels will face defending state quarterfinalist and No. 9 (1A) Remsen St. Mary’s (9-1) today at 2 p.m. at the CYO Tournament in Carroll. Next action for the Cowboys is Monday at Algona.