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Monarchs gear up for 3A regional

5/19/2014

By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

When it comes to postseason high school baseball, pitching becomes even more important in a win-or-go-home format.

Teams with one quality arm have just as good of a shot on any day to take out a top competitor.

While the offense and fielding for the Thomas More Prep-Marian baseball team has been a bit unpredictable the second half of the Monarchs' 15-5 season, TMP head coach Brian Schumacher feels the pitching staff has helped his club stay in ball games, and get wins.

The Monarchs could need two solid arms to get through this week's Class 3A regional in Holcomb. TMP is the top seed and will face either Holcomb (9-9) or Haven (3-13) in Tuesday's 2 p.m. semifinal in Holcomb. Those two teams are scheduled to play each other this evening. A win in the semifinals could mean a matchup with second-seeded Lyons/Chase (14-6), a perennial Class 3A state contender. The Lions will get the winner of today's game between Lakin (13-7) and Anthony/Harper-Chaparral (1-19).

"We haven't faced Lyons for a long time -- since I've coached we've never played them," Schumacher said. "I know they're a good ball club, and fundamentally sound.

"Holcomb is on our side, and I know they've got a really good pitcher, from what I understand," he added.

While Schumacher wasn't pleased following the Monarchs' performance in a split with Colby to end the regular season Thursday, he was quick to praise his pitching staff. The Monarchs committed four errors in the first three innings of a Game 1 loss, but still managed to stay within a run.

"We'll think about (who will start) Monday," Schumacher said. "We have to win that first one to get to the second."

With two wins Tuesday, the Monarchs could get back to the Class 3A state tournament after missing out last season when they fell to Lakin in the semifinals after receiving a first-round bye. TMP was state runner-up in 2010 and 2011, then fell in the first round in 2012.

The Monarchs have pitched five arms this season, and Schumacher feels any one of them could go out and get the job done. Kameron Schmidt is 5-2 with a 2.14 earned-run average. Cameron Brin is 3-3 (with a loss Thursday), with a 2.45 ERA. Liam Stults is 4-0 with one save and a 3.50 ERA. Braiden Werth is 2-0 with a 4.88 ERA in four appearances, including Thursday. Ricky Hocket also has seen three appearances and has one decision -- a win.

"If there's a bright spot this second half of the season, our pitching staff has just done a tremendous job,"  Schumacher said. "They've kept us in games. It's tough when you start the first three innings like that (against Colby)."

Offensively, two Monarchs are hitting better than .400. Stults is hitting .413 with three doubles, two triples and eight RBIs. Grant Romme is hitting .419 with nine doubles, a triple, a home run and 17 RBIs, tied for the team best with Justin Pfeifer, who is hitting .385 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Werth and Brin have each drove in 16 runs this season, and Jordan Gottschalk 15. The Monarchs average just under nine runs per ball game.

"Just have to see," Schumacher said. "Our approach is one game at a time -- see what happens."