A seventh-inning home run from McCluer senior Lance Jeffries spoiled a late Maplewood Richmond Heights rally as the Comets beat the Blue Devils 7-6 at on Wednesday night.
MRH trailed McCluer 5-3 in the sixth inning after a string of McCluer pitchers retired 12 consecutive MRH batters between the second and sixth innings. MRH junior Brad Swedlund broke the streak with a single to center field in the sixth. Junior Sam Martin followed with a two-run homer to tie the game at 5.
Jeffries then broke the tie with his home run to right field and junior Jamaine Richmond followed that with a triple hit to nearly the same spot. Richmond later scored on a passed ball to put McCluer ahead, 7-5.
MRH had an opportunity to capture the lead in the seventh inning, but base-running mistakes cost the Blue Devils a potential victory. Junior David Kunce led off the seventh with a single and then stole second base. But he was picked off for the first out. Sophomore Montel Maggitt and junior Kashon Hagens drew walks before senior Charles BoClair drove in a run with a groundout. Senior Kevin Sapp hit a soft grounder to second for the final Blue Devils out.
"I told the guys I'm not a fan of moral victories," MRH head coach Jonathan Webb said. "That being said, I'm real proud of how we came back to make this a heck of a ball game."
Except for a rough start and finish on the mound for Sapp, he had a stellar performance. He struck out 11 and allowed three earned runs, six hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch over seven innings.
The hit-batter and one walk happened in the first inning, when McCluer scored three runs. Sapp finished the inning by striking out the seventh and eighth-place hitters. Sapp sailed from there, only giving up two more runs while striking out seven before the two-run McCluer seventh.
"After the first inning, I settled down a lot. I found my groove," Sapp said. He needed to get accustomed to a new mound size and working with a new catcher, he said.
"He was really tested mentally going down 3-0 in the first," Webb said. "Sapp is a special kid. We have a lot to look forward to from him this year."
Hagens went 1-2 with a triple, two RBIs and two walks; BoClair went 1-4 with a triple and RBI; freshman Richard Rasmussen went 0-2 with a RBI and run scored; Maggitt went 1-2 with a single, walk, RBI and two runs scored; Kunce went 1-1 with a single and steal; and Swedlund went 1-3 with two steals and two runs scored. Junior Dominic Campanella (0-3), senior Tony Biedenstein (0-3) and Sapp (0-4) were all hitless.
MRH will travel to St. Louis University High tomorrow for a 4 p.m. game.