Ben Berg helps ignite the Kuemper Catholic offense with a two RBI triple in the seventh inning as the Knights try to rally in a 12-10 home loss to Perry. Berg had three hits and scored one run against the Bluejays.
Ben Berg helps ignite the Kuemper Catholic offense with a two RBI triple in the seventh inning as the Knights try to rally in a 12-10 home loss to Perry. Berg had three hits and scored one run against the Bluejays.

July 7, 2017

The Kuemper Catholic Knights stepped into Merchant’s Park with their chests out Thursday night bearing a stout confidence stemming from a solid four game winning streak.

The Knights (17-12) had steam rolled their last four opponents, three of them occurring away from Carroll. Thursday was also senior night, an event that would honor three Kuemper players (Tyler Laing, Rease Snyder and Tim Sibbel) and their families for their commitment to Kuemper baseball.

The Perry Bluejays traveled to Carroll with a massive chip on their shoulder, as their season’s rap sheet featured a story almost contrary to that of the Knights. Lead by last season’s all-state hitter Janier Puente, who had recorded 22 hits and a batting average of .407, and Kaleb Olejniczak who garnered 22 hits and 20 runs this season, the 6-18 Bluejays played like they had nothing to lose, racking up eight runs off five hits by the bottom of the fourth inning.

Kuemper would answer back, but the runs didn’t come fast enough as Perry held onto a 12-10 win that was set up in the early innings.

Puente had smashed a ball that nearly left the ballpark at the top of the forth to record a three RBI triple for the Bluejays.

“We kind of slept walked through (the first few innings),” said Kuemper head coach Randy Snyder. “We looked at their record and thought we could just show up and win. We just couldn’t find ways to stop them and make plays for our pitchers tonight.”

Kuemper Senior Tyler Laing started as the pitcher for the Knights. Laing had earned his keep as the best pitcher on the team, bearing an ERA of 1.19 leading up to Thursday’s game.

Puente made the devastating hit off of a pitch form sophomore Aaron Schreck who had just taken Laing’s spot at the mound. Laing had allowed five scores before his departure. Kuemper catcher Ben Berg struggled to catch Laing’s fast ball on numerous occasions throughout the early part of the game.

“Tyler struggled on the mound,” Snyder said. “We threw with Spalding baseballs tonight, which is something different, and we kind of had to get used to them. With our best pitcher, we had some difficult times, but the guys rallied around each other and stayed positive.”

The Knights has recorded zero runs off of five hits going into the fifth inning. Puente, who had started for the Blue Jays, had pitched a solid game until the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded, two of them the results of walks, Puente committed a balk, allowing a trip to home base for Izak Baumhover. The call was highly protested by Puente.

The mental toll of the call proved too much for Puente as he would walk another Kuemper player and allow a two RBI single from junior Michael Mohr. Puente was replaced by Alexis Garrido following the play.

“We know when adversity comes we can still live through it. I really liked our resiliency, and the guys really fought back we were down 8-0,” Snyder said.

Perry junior Brandon Kenyon would hit a two RBI double at the top of the sixth to kick off a four-run inning that should have put a nail in the coffin for the Bluejays.

Kuemper would fight back in the last tree inning, scoring three runs in the sixth and four runs in the seventh, bringing the score to 12-10 at the game’s close.

Laing lead the Knights offensively with three RBI’s after five times at bat. Snyder said that he will make defense a primary focus going into the post season. Snyder blamed Thursday night’s loss on himself, stating that the Bluejays’ high scoring fourth inning was a result of bad play calls.

“We wanted to win tonight for (the seniors), but we’ve had so many good times with those guys,” Snyder said.

“They’re going to grow up and be wonderful people and make positive things happen. They’ve got a lot of younger guys supporting them, and they’re really proud of what Kuemper baseball stands for.”