St. James Lions claim baseball title with single run
GUELPH – One run Wednesday afternoon was enough for the St. James Lions to claim their first District 10 high school baseball championship title in 20 years.
The Lions scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to edge the reigning champion Ross Royals 1-0 in this year’s final at Pearson Park.
“It was hard to believe, but we’ve played great defence all this year,” St. James coach Kyle Karn said of one run being all that was scored in the game. “We needed one run to win and we did it and our pitching came through like it has all season so I’m very proud of our pitching staff, very proud of our defence and they managed it through.”
However, that run almost didn’t happen as Cameron Hewitt had managed to escape a rundown between third and home by eventually diving safely back to third a couple of pitches before Brock Lomax smacked a single to the left side of the diamond that scored Hewitt.
“It was a close one,” Karn said. “We got a bit of a break there, but that’s the baseball gods for you.”
Hewitt had opened the inning with a single up the middle before he stole second and went to third on a passed ball.
That run made a winning pitcher out of Nathan Dobbins who tossed the third inning. He faced three batters and didn’t give up a hit and he had a strikeout.
The Lions used four pitchers in the game. Lukas LeGrand started and went two innings, yielding a hit and striking out two. Hewitt followed Dobbins and worked 3 2/3 innings. He surrendered a hit, walked two and struck out five. Aiden Edmonds picked up the save as he got the only batter he faced to fly out to centre field to end the game.
St. James had seven hits in the game, all singles. Lomax hit three while LeGrand, Nathan Hasson, Hewitt and Owen Marshall each hit one.
A pair of lefthanders split mound time for Ross. Massimo Church started and went four innings while Sebastien Lafontaine worked the final three. Church gave up the run and five hits and also had six strikeouts while Lafontaine yielded two hits and had four strikeouts. Neither issued a walk.
Ross batters had two hits – a leadoff double by Arthur Currier in the fourth inning and a leadoff single by Josh Davis in the second.
The championship win was the sixth for St. James and first since they finished a five-year hold on the title in 2002.
“It’s been a long time coming. This is a great group of guys. They’ve played together all their lives in Guelph.”
The 2022 season was a quick three-week affair this year, including a preseason match for each team. It was moved to the spring due to the pandemic that caused fall sports to start about a month later than normal and four schools participated. While it was a short season, at least it was a season.
“That’s one of the big reasons I took on the coaching this year,” Karn said. “I really felt bad for the guys that had missed (last season), the senior players that had missed.”
Ross was the defending champions as the Royals had won the title in 2019 when the league ran in the fall. All sports in the 2020-2021 school year were cancelled.
While the game was a serious one, it was also a friendly one between teams of two schools located relatively close to one another.
“Everybody knows everybody. They’ve all played with each other for years so they know the ins and outs of every player,” Karn said. “There are a lot of friendships there. There wasn’t any animosity.”
- Guelph Sports Journal