Missing two players didn't keep the Astros from getting the early lead in their Jhawk Baseball league match-up with the Cardinals on Wednesday at Holcom. The Astros managed to hold off a late-inning comeback from the Cardinals to capture a 6-4 victory.
"The comeback stressed me out a bit, but solid play from the team sealed the deal," Astros coach Matt Larkin said.
The Cardinals had Zach Bradford on the mound to start the game. Bradford led off the top of the first inning by walking Astros lead-off batter, Johannes Reiber. Jacob Leet followed, getting a free base. A pitch hit from Elan Rosen loaded the bases. Bradford then gave up a double to Owen Blackwood who cleared the bases, driving in three runs.
Bradford calmed down in the middle of the first, walking only Seth Holiday, and striking out Robert Stacey, Tyler Skidmore and Johannes Reiber to end the inning.
The Astros built a 3-0 lead midway through their half of the first inning.
Owen Blackwood began the bottom of the first inning, by striking out Cardinals' lead-off batter Nick Allen. A solid six-three out at first and another strikeout took the Cardinals down in order and preserved the lead for the Astros.
The second inning was strong for both teams.
Blackwood took the Cardinals out with his work from the mound by forcing them to strand base runners at second and third, preserving the Astros' 3-0 lead.
The Astros rolled on all cylinders and got their bats going early in the third inning. A first-base hit from Reiber drove in one run. Two batters later, Elan Rosen drove in another run and pushed the Astros lead to five.
Offensive production came for the Cardinals in the bottom of the third. It looked as if the batters would go down 1-2-3, but Blackwood walked Patrick Shields and Nick Allen.
Tanner Click came to the plate and blasted a double, which drove in two runs. Bradford added another run to the score with a double of his own.
The Cardinals' Mitchell Moshiri hit his third triple and drove in another run before Ben Dreitch grounded out for the last out of the inning. The offensive surge brought the Cardinals back within one run.
A lead-off triple started the fourth inning for the Astros. Jacob Leet followed with a sacrifice grounder. The Astros added only the one run and led, 6-4 with three outs to go.
The door was still open for the Cardinals to pull out a victory. With the bases loaded it looked as if they had a chance.
Adam Ramos started the inning by taking first base after being hit by a pitch. Thomas Hinkel and Dylan Orth struck out, but Jeron Lilliamcamp kept the Cardinals alive being patient at the plate and getting a walk.
Patrick Shields connected on a pitch, but tagged Ramos out at home to record the third out of the inning to end the game.
Cardinals coach Kenneth Click was proud of the way his team battled.
"We came up a little late," Click said. "We got excited because we had a chance to win. It was a good play on their part."
Coach Larkin liked the energy and attitude of the Astros.
"Hustle is a key for me as a coach," Larkin said. "When the kids try hard and hit the ball solid it gives us a chance to win every game."
"Next game, we need to be sharper and be ready to play," Click said. "We must play well in the first inning because tonight that is something we didn't do."
The Astros look to carry the winning momentum into their last game of the season against team seven and the Cardinals want to carry over the improvement Coach Click saw late in the game.
"It was good that everyone got three at-bats," Click said. "Kids who have struggled at the plate showed a lot of improvement in their swing."