East St. John sweeps doubleheader

Published 1:59 pm Friday, March 20, 2015

RESERVE — With the beginning of district play looming next week, East St. John is positioned as well as it has been for a long time.

The Wildcats moved to 6-2 with doubleheader victories over St. James, winning 10-0 and 12-2 Tuesday at Regala Park.

In the second game, ESJ led 4-2 in the sixth inning before an eight-run frame closed the game out early via the 10-run rule.

Justin Schnyder took the win on the mound, going six innings and allowing two runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out nine.

C.J. Turner drove in two runs and scored two runs for ESJ. I’Leke Brown went 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Don Creecy went 1 for 1 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

East St. John stole nine bases in the game.

In the first game, ESJ closed things out in five innings by the 10-run rule. Phil Adams went 3 for 3 with two RBIs. Ahmani Martin went 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Juan Marshall was 3 for 3 with three runs scored and Don Creecy was 3 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Brown pitched the complete five-inning game and recorded a shutout. He allowed three hits and walked one while striking out nine.

“He’s our No. 1,” East St. John coach Matt White said. “He can throw any pitch at any time in the count, and he throws them all for strikes. He’s always right there in the strike zone, and he’s able to keep teams off balance.”

White said the teams elected to play a doubleheader due to the prospect of more upcoming rainouts.

“St. James is really young right now, and we’ve been playing pretty well,” White said. “It was a good day for us as we’re getting ready to play one more tournament, then we’ve got a tough slate of district games starting Tuesday.”

White said he prodded his team in the sixth inning of the second game, as a more inspired St. James effort made it anyone’s game before ESJ put things away.

“I told them, ‘the first game is over,’” White said. “We had a real sluggish start. You look at a doubleheader, the percentages of winning both games, it’s hard to do. But to our guys’ credit, they went back out and got it done.”

East St. John was ranked 20th in the Class 5A power rankings as of Thursday evening. Last season at this time, the Wildcats were 59th.

“We’ve got some good leadership on our team,” White said. “Guys are being unselfish and applying themselves in new roles.

“Defense was an Achilles’ heel last year, but these guys have really made the effort to solidify that and it’s showing.”

A defensive adjustment has helped that progress along, White said. Ahmani Martin moved to third base from short stop, with C.J. Turner shifting to short and Phil Adams moving from center field to second base.

“We have some guys we feel good about in the outfield and that let us change things up,” White said. “I think it made us better defensively. We’ve made about four or five double plays this year that looked smooth as silk.”

Brown’s been a big lift in that area, as well. When he’s not pitching, he’s been a major playmaker in the outfield, White said.

“We call him GPS,” White said. “He tracks everything down. When it comes off the bat, he’s immediately on it.”

East St. John returns to action today against Doyle, the No. 2 ranked team in Class 2A, at 10 a.m. Following that game’s conclusion, the Rebels will face off with Holden.