With the season on the line, St. Anthony turned to Alex Hoelscher Monday for the Bulldogs’ National Trail Conference tournament quarterfinal against Neoga.
Hoelscher responded in a way coach Kenny Koenig could have only hoped for, pitching a complete game shutout and driving in the Bulldogs’ lone run in a 1-0 shutout win against the Indians.
St. Anthony’s senior starter had the confidence brimming before the game even started, according to his coach.
“Found a way, like I said last time, we needed that one guy to step up; Alex stepped (up) on both sides today,” Koenig said. “He said he wanted the ball, wanted to get off us this losing streak. He stepped up today.”
To get the Bulldogs on the board Hoelscher hit a rope to left field in the fifth inning and Eli Dasenbrock on second. Neoga left fielder Logan Rankin came in on the ball initially, but the liner stayed up and got over his head for an RBI double.
It’d be all St. Anthony needed, although it looked like they’d need more midway through the top of the sixth.
Zach Monroe reached on an error for Neoga followed by a single by Tyler Romack. With two on and no out, Jake Baker looked to lay down a bunt.
He was unsuccessful twice, and Dasenbrock caught Monroe a bit off second base on the second attempt. Dasenbrock fired a strike to Neil Williams, picking off Monroe and halting the rally.
Hoelscher struck out Baker, and despite allowing a single that could have scored Monroe if he hadn’t been picked off, kept the inning scoreless.
“It was a great play,” Koenig said. “The pitch before, the kid was jumping off a good eight, 10 feet.
“He sold it great ... standing up like he was going to throw it back (to the pitcher), and threw a perfect throw right to second base.”