Baseball: Marquette’s big inning beats the rain, Roanoke-Benson

Crusaders now 10-0 after 8 runs in the fifth break scoreless duel

Marquette Academy senior Carson Zellers

OTTAWA – The thunderstorm that dumped a bunch of rain and caused weather delays all over the Illinois Valley late Thursday afternoon arrived at the Marquette baseball game with Roanoke-Benson/Lowpoint-Washburn at Masinelli Field.

However, it was the Crusaders – not Mother Nature – providing the deluge, and in runs, not raindrops.

The Cru broke up a scoreless pitchers’ duel between their own Carson Zellers and the Rockets’ Evan Schumacher with eight runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the outburst keeping them undefeated overall and in the Tri-County Conference with a 9-0 victory over visiting R-B/L-W.

The home team, which had just two hits in its first four innings against the unlucky Schumacher, hammered out 13 hits: two each from Sam Mitre (two doubles, two RBIs on the day), Keaton Davis (double), Griffin Dobberstein (RBI) and Jaxsen Higgins.

While the bats came around late, it was Zellers who shined throughout, scattering five singles and striking out six with a walk to lead MA to its 10th straight win to start the season, four of them in the league.

“That was the best I’ve felt in a while,” said Zellers, who contributed an RBI single to the big fifth inning. “The last two games I went out there on the mound, I wasn’t feeling that good, but today I was in more in a rhythm, felt like I was slotted and confident in my pitches. I liked the way I played today. I was rolling.

“And I sure liked seeing those eight runs. I knew they’d come around eventually, but that was awesome.”

Through the first 4 1/2 innings, the two clubs were dead even, Zellers allowing only singles to Drew Garells in the second and Jack Leman in the fifth; Schumacher surrendering just a Mitre two-bagger in the first and an Anthony Couch single in the second.

But in the home fifth, that changed in a hurry, It started when Higgins slapped a leadoff single to center and Grant Dose was hit by a pitch. Alec Novotney then beat out a sacrifice bunt, with Higgins scoring the game’s first run when the ball escaped the first baseman for an error.

Zellers then singled in a run, Mitre doubled home two more runs and, after an infield single by Davis, Dobberstein singled in another run, chasing Schumacher.

Against reliever Connor Reifsteck, Charlie Mullen singled in a run, Higgins got his second hit of the frame, and Dose drove in yet another. Novotney’s sac fly to center plated the final run.

A Davis two-base hit and an error added a run in the sixth.

“[Schumacher] did a great job, getting his three pitches over the plate,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins said. “Roanoke’s a good ballclub. They beat Henry-Senachwine and their [Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association] Player of the Year [Lance Kiesewetter] the other day. They’re going to win a lot of games and will be a tough out in the postseason. Glad we’re not going their way.

“But we got a guy on, moved him and played the small game to get us going before we started hitting a little bit. … Carson threw really well today, was able to get ahead in the count. That made his breaking ball and changeup more effective, which in turn helped his fastball, and he did a good job mixing it up.

“He delivered and we needed him to.”

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