It was a disappointing day for the Crusaders on Friday, with both the baseball and softball teams losing in the North Coast Section playoffs, although the future appears bright for both.
The baseball team fell at home to Branson 4-3 in an exciting game, while the softball team lost on the road at Clear Lake by a score of 10-0.
The two teams, however, featured just four seniors combined this spring, including just one on the baseball team, and two young lineups have plenty of reason for optimism going into the offseason.
That lone senior on the baseball team, Caleb Ruiz, enjoyed an outstanding season, but took the loss against Branson in a game where the home team made a few two many defensive errors.
“It was a great game. We just didn’t execute today and that happens,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “We just didn’t play clean.”
Ruiz got the start, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits, while walking five and striking out five.
Afterwards, Tomlin spoke of how much this team will miss him.
“Caleb Ruiz had a tremendous senior year,” the head coach said. “He didn’t have hist best stuff today, but you’ve got to look at the whole season. We’re really going to miss him. He’s a special kid to coach.”
The visitors scored runs in each of the first and second innings and never trailed, holding the Crusaders at bay throughout but never pulling away either.
St. Bernard’s scored one run in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Logan Petrusha and Bode Joyner each pitched very well in relief of Ruiz, keeping their team in the game.
Petrusha came in with the bases loaded and one out, and had to face the visitors’ Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, but got two quick outs to get out of the jam.
“He was outstanding in relief,” Tomlin said of the junior. “And Joyner was outstanding in relief also.”
The Crusaders had just four hits on the day, one each from Joyner, Cole Petrusha, Nick Dugan and Lane Thrap.
The Crusaders close out 17-10, with a young lineup showing plenty of promise this spring.
“To play the level of baseball we played with just one senior was pretty special,” Tomlin said.
Branson will now play Fremont Christian in the Division-V semifinals.
The St. Bernard’s girls, meanwhile, closed out the season with a record of 10-10.
Senior Ally Del Grande, who has led the way for the Crusaders all season, turned an impressive double play on her own for one of the highlights from Friday’s loss.