The Tiger Baseball team looks to begin the defense of their state title this Friday when they play DeSales High School @ 6:00 on Friday at Saint X. In the upcoming weeks we will look at their individual opponents, but first let’s look at the Tiger Baseball Team and what we can expect from them this year.
The Tigers lost their two aces from last season, Daniel Fisher, who was named to the postseason All-American Team, and Adam Elliot, who was the State Tournament MVP. The two University of Louisville signees almost single-handedly led the Tigers to the State Title. They teamed up to pitch the Tigers to the State Championship Game, giving up 6 runs in 4 games with a team ERA (earned run average) of 1.80. Others who were lost to graduation include Eric Hasselwander, Sam Porta, and Brian O’Neil.
A Key Returner on the Pitching Staff is Connor Holden, who pitched the Tigers to their 2nd state title in 3 years, throwing a 3 hit shutout with 8 strikeouts in the Tigers’ 1-0 victory over Campbell County in the State Championship Game. The Murray State signee will be one of the top pitchers in the state this year. As the No.3 pitcher last year, Holden had a 2.12 ERA and 38 strikeouts on the year. Other returning pitchers include Sam Wilson, Sam Mudd, and Matthew Logsdon with the addition of juniors Henry Sadlo, Ryan Hamilton, Evan Burnett, and Andrew Littlefield. Sam Wilson notably was the designated closer for the Tigers, so look for him to expand that role.
The Tigers lose 3-year starter Dalton Dedas, who was the catcher on the 2014 and 2016 State Championship teams. He was a natural leader on the team, who was a reliable backstop and a threat at the plate.
Sophomore Cam Scheler and Junior Chase Patton are the two catchers on the Varsity Roster this season. Both have experience playing Varsity, as they played a few regular season games last year when Dedas was given a day off. Scheler will be remembered for hitting a walk off last postseason with the bases loaded. Scheler should provide some offensive firepower for the Tigers this year and will be in contention for a lot larger role this year.
Corner Infield (1st and 3rd Base)
The Tigers have lost both of their First Basemen from last season, Daniel Fisher and Nick Nelson, who was also the backup Catcher and could play Third Base, as well. The Infield is where the Tigers have lost the fewest amount of players.
Seniors Chris Esselman and Ryan Davis are 2 corner infielders returning from last year’s state championship team. Also, Senior Chase Collins, who was cut from the team junior year, is on the team and will play some 1st base. Juniors that are looking to vie for time in the corner infield include Bryce Elmore and Ryan Hamilton.
Ryan Davis was playing solid before an injury ended his season last year. In 59 at bats he was hitting .305. Look for Chase Collins to have a big year for the Tigers as well. After being cut his junior year, he has worked extremely hard just to get back on the field. It’s paid off, but he has a lot more to prove. Notably, as a freshman, Chase threw a no-hitter while his twin brother Zac (committed to Purdue as a punter) was behind the plate at catcher.
Arguably one of the most important positions in baseball, the Tigers lost their starting shortstop, Casey Simon, who hit a solo home run in the state title game to give Saint X its single run. Simon is the only middle infielder that has graduated, so expect the Tigers to be solid at these positions.
Seniors Chris Esselman and Zeke Porta are both returning players from last season’s team, as well as the edition of Juniors Trey Sweeney and Ryan Hamilton.
Even last year, Esselman had the prettiest swing on the Tigers roster. He is a pure contact guy, and batted .266 last year. Zeke Porta also looks to make a big leap for the Tigers last year after serving mostly as a pinch hitter last year.
Seniors Adam Eliott and Kurt Ramser were both lost to graduation, but Outfield looks to be a strong-suit for this years team.
Seniors Steven Mitchell, Tanner Brown, Sam Hedges, and Sam Mudd, as well as Junior Andrew Littlefield will make up the outfield for this years team.
Mitchell one of the fastest players on the team, which will do him well on the defensive side on the ball, but just as much on offense. Mitchell batted near the top of the lineup last year and batted .287 with 21 runs scored.
Don’t let Sam Mudd’s size fool you, because he has all the tools. He has a strong arm, capable of making the furthest throws from the outfield, paired with a big swing. Look for Mudd to move out from the middle of the batting lineup this year.
Sam Hedges is the Tigers top overall player. He is an all around athlete with great speed and strength. He plays through the ball very well and is an an accurate thrower from the outfield. The Northern Kentucky commit is a great batter and takes advantage of the gaps in the field.
With 4 returning players, and 1 Junior, look for the Tiger outfielders to have a monster season.
Schedule and Other Notes:
Once again, the Tigers will play a strong out-of-town schedule with teams including Brother Rice (IL), a Spring Break Tournament in Nashville, Cincy St. X, and Elder High School.
In the state, the Tigers will field tough competition against Trinity and Ballard. Both of these teams are in the same region as St.X, and have a lot of talent. Notably, Trinity will have two UofL signees. Ballard’s Jordan Adell is a one man show, also committed to UofL, and looks to be a top prospect in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Overall, the Tigers do have a strong chance to go back to back and win the state title come this June. This feat has not been accomplished since Harrison County did it in the 1997-1998 seasons. However, if last year is an indication of how the Tigers play in the postseason, they know how to get it done when it counts.
Go Tigers! Read the rest of this entry
With the year coming to a close, we take time to reminisce on the past year in sports. 2016 has been filled with countless games, memories, and championships that have added to the legacy of St.X’s athletic excellence. Now, as the crystal ball counts down to midnight, WSTX Sports would like to do a countdown of our own over the next few days. Let’s countdown the Top 10 Moments in Tiger Sports for the year of 2016!
They defeated No. 1 ranked Greenup County, defeated the defending state champions West Jessamine, and defeated No.2 ranked McCracken County. All these incredible wins gave Tiger Baseball the opportunity to win their seventh state championship, but quite fittingly, they faced one more challenge on their already magical postseason run.
In their nine inning state semi-final against McCracken County, St.X’s two aces Daniel Fischer and Adam Elliot (both currently on the roster for UofL) pitched in the game, making them ineligible in the state title game.
Connor Holden would have to step up in the final game.
He found himself in a hole early. The bases were loaded with only a single out in the first inning. However, Campbell County’s next hitter hit a chopper up the middle that Holden snagged to start a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
Two innings later, Casey Simon, the other hero of the day, would hit his first home run of the season, providing the lone run in the game.
Now with a lead, Holden and the Tigers were able to settle into the game. He would go on to pitch a three hit shutout, picking up eight strikeouts along the way, including the final out which cued a well-deserved dog pile.
No one thought he would be the one dishing the final out, but who thought the Tigers would make it their in the first place? It’s only fitting that Holden was able to put the cherry on top of Tiger Baseball’s amazing run.
Story by Tanner Passafiume
The Tigers’ pitching got it done for them again. Coming off two very strong pitching performances at Lexington Catholic over the weekend, the Tigers trotted senior J.D. Mundt out to the mound against the Bullitt East Chargers for the home opener. The Tigers got another mercy rule victory, winning 12-0 in five innings. Mundt picked up right where Cam Revelette and Grant Wessling left off. He worked efficiently through the Chargers lineup, striking out two and allowing just two hits in five innings, on only 46 pitches. When asked about his performance Mundt said, “My goal was to get ahead, throw a lot of first pitch strikes, and I think I did a really good job with that.” Mundt was able to get ahead of ten of the sixteen batters he faced and this helped keep the Charger’s batters on edge.
The pitching was not the only story, however. The defense behind Mundt was as solid as it has been all year. In the Tigers’ first three games, the defense has been great. The defense behind this great pitching staff has not put any additional pressure on the starters, committing exactly zero errors on the season.
“I know they’re not going to make a mistake,” Mundt explained. “If they do, they’re not going to make another one.”
The defense in this game was highlighted by junior second baseman Casey Simon’s sliding catch out in right during the second inning and junior third baseman Daniel Fischer’s backhand pick and throw across the infield in the fifth.
Without hitting, however, a great pitching staff and solid defense are irrelevant. This season, the Tigers have made sure their pitching and defense do not go to waste. Over the first three games, St. X has produced 33 runs. The offense has come from all throughout the lineup, whether it be from the top of the order, with Adam Elliott hitting a two-run homerun in the first game, the middle of the order, in the form of Dalton Dedas’ three RBI’s in 3 at bats against Bishop Brossart, or the bottom of the order, with Avery Lane knocking in 4 runs in the first three games.
“I’m just letting the ball hit the bat, taking what the pitcher gives me, and just putting it in play somewhere,” said junior center fielder Adam Elliott, who went 2-4 against the Chargers.
Lane echoed this philosophy when he spoke about his three RBI double in the second inning.
“I was just trying to put anything in play,” Lane explained. “I made it work and took the ball to the right side.”
Many other hitters also contributed including Trent Revelette, who drove in 4 runs against the Chargers, bringing his season total to 8. But this is not a one or two player offense; eight different players drove in runs against Bullitt East. They could be celebrating their scorching start to the season, but they aren’t. They know how long the season is and aren’t letting anything get ahead of them.
“We’re just staying humble,” Lane said. “You can’t get too cocky. We’re just doing what we do best.”
With this attitude, performances like the one last night at Mueller Field will become commonplace. That, is something we could all get used to.
Go Tigers! We Are!
When Saint Xavier Baseball takes on Bishop Brossart at 5 p.m. today, it will be in unfamiliar territory. The Tigers will be the defending State Champions for the first time in 33 years. It’s a long season, but there is something to being that team with a target on its back; there will be high expectations, but without a doubt, the 2015 St. X Baseball team has the firepower to answer the bell. It will be interesting to see how the club treats its new identity, but one thing is for certain: There will be plenty of eyes on the Tigers.
As crazy as it might sound, this year’s squad might be better than last year’s. Much like last year’s team, the calling card for this group is depth, and it boasts a whole lot of it. The pitching staff is insane, and while the Tigers lost a lot of offensive production to graduation, there is a ton of optimism that the bats will be ready to deliver when needed.
What sticks out most about this team is the pitching. St. X returns Cam Revelette, J.D. Mundt, Grant Wessling and Scott Spurlock as seniors. All four of those guys were on the mound as either starters or relievers in the State Tournament. When you add excellent juniors Adam Elliott, Alex Hood, Daniel Fischer and Brian O’Neil, this staff has unreal depth and talent.
Revelette will be the ace on this staff, but the rotation will be filthy regardless of who is on the bump. Even sophomore Jack Biernesser will most likely get some varsity innings. The bottom line: St. X pitching has quantity and quality.
“Our pitching coach, Coach Scheer, says if we score 4 runs a game we won’t lose because of our pitching staff,” Wessling explains. “Adam Elliott and Daniel Fischer are some solid, hard-throwing juniors, and Scott Spurlock will be a good closer. He’s got nasty stuff.”
Even with all the talented arms on the mound, senior third baseman Brandon Blaser warns that the bats will be just as potent, if not more. That proposition is downright scary.
“Our pitching is deep, but we can hit the ball, too,” Blaser says. “Our seniors will step up and make a huge impact swinging the bats. Our offense will be the strength of the team this year.”
The infield will feature two anchors in Blaser at third base and senior shortstop Avery Lane who started on last season’s championship team. Defensively, both of these guys are top-of-the-line. They both have rocket arms that make difficult plays look easy, in addition to fantastic range. Not many liners or grounders are going to get through the left side of the infield against St. X this season.
You can’t sleep on Blaser or Lane in the batter’s box, either. After replacing then-senior stud Austin Clemons at shortstop after Clemons suffered an ACL injury, Lane finished third on the team in batting average with a blistering .351/.383/.373 line. Blaser finished second on the team with 8 doubles, but even his extra base hit numbers don’t tell the story with this guy. When Blaser hits a ball, he smokes it. Last season, it seemed like almost every ball he got his bat on was an absolute rocket. He has to be considered one of the most feared batters in the state for what he can do inside the park; he’s not going to put five balls over the fences this season (although I wouldn’t put it past him), but he will send lasers to almost every spot inside those fences, so expect a healthy amount of two and three baggers from Blaser.
For all that, Blaser probably isn’t even the biggest bat in the lineup. That title will probably be senior catcher/first baseman Josh Finerty. He’s a big, imposing figure in the box who has great bat speed and amazing strength. He led the team in doubles last season with 9 and also drove in 18 runs. He hits for power and average, having posted a healthy .337 average last season.
Senior outfielder Aaron Grammer is another bat to watch. While he didn’t start many games last season, he pinch hit in several high-pressure moments in the State Tournament last year and got hits in every single instance, including a pinch-hit single to start the rally that won the Tigers the state title 5-2 over Simon Kenton. He will be a middle-of-the-order masher that will most likely go yard a few times this year.
Want a few newcomers to keep an eye on? Make sure to follow junior outfielder Kurt Ramser and junior second baseman Casey Simon. Ramser brings power to the lineup, while Simon is a wizard defensively.
As a team, the players know the most important ingredient to success is chemistry; it’s what broke a 33-year drought last year, and if the Tigers are to repeat, it will be because of chemistry.
“We are a close group,” Wessling says. “We haven’t had any games yet, but it will be interesting to see if we can play together like a solid team. If we do, it could be fun to watch.”
Being the defending champs helps with that cohesion. Blaser says even with the added pressure, he enjoys playing with that target on his team’s back.
“We worked hard in the offseason to compete for another state title,” he says. “We approach practice everyday with a good work ethic and a positive mindset. If we focus on the little details, everything will play out in the games.”
At the end of the day, there is a lot of baseball to be played before St. X thinks about a repeat. But Wessling knows it’s possible.
“We don’t want to look too far ahead, but we think we can [repeat],” he explains. “We for sure have the pitching, and that’s important in the tournaments. The bats need to stay consistent and defense remain error free, and we can definitely do that”