Apr. 29—NORWALK — If the St. Paul baseball team finishes where it wants, it will look back on one particular 24-hour period as a key factor.
One day after rallying for a 13-10 win in extra innings in a game they were down to their last strike at Mapleton, the Flyers again had to rally. They walked off the Mounties on an RBI double from Luke Blum for a 4-3 win on Wednesday in a Firelands Conference game at Norwalk Area Contractors Park.
The victory was the eighth straight for the Flyers, who improved to 16-3 overall and 10-0 in the FC. St. Paul is seeking a fourth straight FC championship (2017-19) and maintains a one-game lead over Plymouth (11-5, 9-1) atop the standings with four conference games remaining — beginning next Monday vs. South Central.
"Another gutsy performance by our kids," St. Paul head coach Aaron Fries said. "They jumped on us early, but we settled in and did not allow some good hitting get us off our game plan."
The Mounties (8-9, 5-4) got to ace Scotty Adelman for three runs on five hits in the top of the first inning, and the Flyers answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half. But Adelman was dominant from there, yielding just two hits en route to a 15-strikeout performance with just one walk.
But Mapleton pitcher Calvin Vermilya also settled in, and the Mounties still led 3-2 with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Thomas Bocock hit a 2-1 pitch to centerfield, then stole second base to get into scoring position for Kaden Maxwell. An error on a ground ball to third allowed Maxwell to reach, and let Bocock reach third base.
Drew Kuhnle then came to bat ready to swing. He hit the first pitch through the hole at shortstop to score Bocock and tie the game. Vermilya got a strikeout to end the inning and send the game to the seventh tied at 3-3.
Adelman (6-1) retired the Mounties in order in the top of the seventh, including a pair of strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches, which included 67 strikes.
Due up to lead off the seventh, Adelman singled an 0-1 pitch to center to give the Flyers the winning run. With 36 stolen bases entering the game, Adelman again used his feet to help the Flyers win.
Adelman stole second, then advanced to third on a wild pitch with Eli Fisher batting. But Vermilya got Fisher to bunt out to catcher Bryar Ramey, then struck out Tyler Perkins for a second out with Adelman still at third.
However, after taking one pitch, Blum connected for his double to left field to allow Adelman to easily score the winning run.
"Can't say enough about Luke," Fries said. "He has been knocking the cover off the ball all season in big moments — and tonight was no exception."
Vermilya led off the game with an 0-2 single off Adelman, then Kaleb Stafford sacrifice bunted him to third after he stole second. Ramey then singled to right for a 1-0 lead, and Nick Wrobleski followed with a single to put runners on first and second.
Kollin Cline then singled up the middle to score Ramey, and Blake Penner did the same on a 1-0 pitch to score Wrobleski for a 3-0 lead.
After issuing his lone walk, Adelman then got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. Over the final six innings, he only allowed a single to Ramey with two outs in the fifth and a leadoff single to Cline in the sixth.
In three starts against New London, Western Reserve and Mapleton in a 10-day span, Adelman struck out 44 batters in 21 innings of work.
"Mapleton is a really good fastball-hitting team, so it was crucial for Scotty to hit the zone with both off-speed and fastball," Fries said. "He did that masterfully, working backwards on many occasions. His control of his breaking stuff over these last three games has led to some really gaudy strikeout numbers."
In the bottom of the first, Adelman and Fisher each reached on errors at second base to put runners at the corners. Fisher then took second on defensive indifference, and a Tyler Perkins ground out to second scored Adelman and advanced Fisher to third.
Blum was hit by a 2-0 pitch, then Jaycob Stanley singled on a bunt attempt to Vermilya, which allowed Fisher to score and cut the deficit to 3-2.
But Vermilya induced a fielder's choice out and a fly out to end the threat. Until the Flyers scored again in the sixth, he allowed one hit each to Adelman (double), Perkins, Maxwell and Fisher over the second through fifth innings.
"I have a lot of respect for Mapleton," Fries said. "They have big boys who hit the ball hard, so winning two from them this week is a huge confidence booster."
Mapleton 300 000 0 — 3 7 4
St. Paul 200 001 1 — 4 9 0
WP: Adelman; LP: Vermilya
2B: (SP) Blum, Adelman