Urchins shut out as St. Andrew’s forces Game 3

PEARL – A potential three-peat for East Union will have to wait a little bit longer.

St. Andrew’s starter Boyd McCullouch threw seven shutout innings, and a fast start for the Saints’ offense was enough for a 5-0 win on Thursday in the MHSAA Class 2A state finals. Game 3 will be played on Saturday.

“Too many pop-ups, too many strikeouts, too many pop-ups,” East Union coach Jamie Russell said. “Every ball we hit hard was hit right at them. They made plays, they put a little pressure on us early with the small ball game. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

St. Andrew’s (31-7) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning. The Saints loaded the bases, and Blake Bell put his team on the board with a two-RBI single. Another RBI single and a sacrifice fly completed the four-run frame.

“The key was we got off to an early lead,” St. Andrew’s coach Mark Fanning said. “You’re in an elimination game, you don’t want to fall behind, and thank goodness we were able to scrap some stuff together in the second inning. They made a couple mistakes, but I think that we put a little bit of pressure on them, too, and that helped out.”

On the mound, McCullouch gave up plenty of contact, but he found a way to keep the Urchins (25-6) from scoring. He finished the day with no strikeouts and eight hits surrendered, but McCullouch also didn’t walk anyone.

“Just filling up the zone, let my defense play for me,” McCullouch said. “All the credit to my defense, they made some great plays out there for me today.”

McCullouch has come on strong down the stretch for the Saints, and Thursday was no different.

“He made his first start for us after spring break; he’d been a reliever,” Fanning said. “Man, he delivered for us. He just gets out there. Nothing bothers him. He stands in the middle of this field, throws strikes, makes pitches that are hard to hit.”

East Union had its opportunities to score, but the bounces just didn’t go the Urchins’ way. However, they have more than enough postseason experience to be ready to roll on Saturday with their three-peat on the line.

“They’ll be ready to go Saturday,” Russell said. “It’ll be a battle, we’ll be ready to go.”

Extra Bases

Big Inning: St. Andrew’s posted four runs in the second inning to pull away 4-0.

Big Stat: Each team only had one extra-base hit.

Coach Speak: “Everything we hit hard was right at them. That happens on this big field. We’ve just got to learn from it, forget it and come back Saturday and be ready to go.” – Russell