How to gather the saints of Manesti twice in two days to survive

BATTLE CREEK – Down the 7th place, two men, down a round with two men in the scoring position.

It’s a dream scenario for players in the 2022 NABF World Championships. But for Manistee’s Lucas Richardson, it was a reality in the Saints’ final game of pool play against Hackensack Friday at Billy Park.

Until his last strike, Richardson maintained his composure. The next two pitches failed to lure the man known as the team’s “Iron Man” to swing, the evening count at 2-2.

The next pitch he saw fell midfield for a base kick deep enough for Jake Finkbeiner and Alex Schmidt to score to give the Saints a 6-5 victory.

“He did a great job, leaving some pitches nearby which I think were those pitches he (the rival bowler) was trying to get (Richardson) on,” said Saints player/manager Rudy McNeil. “We had some good days running where we stole second and third and then Lucas came in with this huge hit to the right center, I mean he smashed it. Great on the racquet.

“Exactly what we need from Iron Man.”

The Saints finish pool game 3-0 and will be one of the eight teams in the tournament vying for the world title this weekend.

“Going 3-0 is a good achievement, but everyone here is on the same line. We’re not done,” McNeil said. “We came here for a reason, and it wasn’t just about going 3-0 in pool. We didn’t go 3-0 in pool last year, but we went ahead by playing pool and faltered in the quarter-finals. We’re really excited. To kind of redeem a little bit into that and hopefully I’ll be able to turn the tables a little bit.”

After three silent rounds from both teams, the Troasts put in five runs into the fourth inning to tighten their grip on the momentum. That was until the bottom of the fifth inning.

Tommy Reed’s double and back-to-back walk of Dom Palamara and Finkbeiner loaded the bases, Danny Passinault needed to see only one stadium to give the Saints life. He hit the field over the right court wall for a grand slam and cut Hackensack’s lead to 5-4.

Todd Schmidt allowed four unearned rounds of two-strokes, two-strokes and two-strokes in 3 2/3 runs of the action. Dylan Bates allowed the single to win 4 hits while getting 1 punch in 3 1/3 innings of rest.

Richardson, Finkbeiner, and Alex Strickland earned six of Manesty’s nine songs.

Back Thursday night

Friday’s comeback win wasn’t the only time the Saints had to rally for this tournament. Having been scratched in the first two rounds of the top half of the first half, Manesty found himself trailing 5-2 after two rounds against Lombard Orioles on Thursday night.

Momentum shifted very slightly for the Saints in the fifth half, adding a pass twice and an RBI hit from Stephen Weinert to cut the difference to 5-4. After MacNeil had three straight runs at the bottom of the inning, Manistee fully revealed Mojo in the sixth.

Strickland, Alex Schmidt, Weinert, Reed, Finkbeiner and Pacino took RBI hits in explosive eight runs to advance 12-5. The Orioles had one primary runner in sixth from a walk and one in seventh from a Manistee foul, but MacNeil had two out of three punches in the game in the last two frames to give the Saints a sure win.

Passinault finished 3 for 5 with three RBI. Strickland, Weinert, and Reed earned six hits each, and combined for five RBI stars.

MacNeil allowed five runs, four earned, from five strokes with four walks and three strokes. No hit was allowed in the last three rounds of the match.

“(Chicago Lombard) is a really good program, it’s been a really good team for a number of years now,” McNeil said. “I think they’re definitely a team to beat here. They’re always the last type 4 team. I think that’s a lot of momentum. It’s a huge confidence building kind. Those were really good arms we’ve had and we’ve had some really good things at bat.”