BATTLE CREEK — Lucas Richardson played the hero Friday.
The Manistee Saints wrapped up pool play in the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series with a pristine 3-0 record after Richardson’s ultra-clutch two-out, two-RBI walk-off single lifted them over the Hackensack Troasts by a final of 6- 5.
The Saints entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 5-4. Jake Finkbeiner led off with a line-drive single to centerfield to put the tying run aboard. It looked as though he’d be stranded at first after Danny Passinault struck out and Alex Strickland flied out to right, but Alex Schmitt walked on five pitches to keep the Saints’ hopes alive.
Richardson quickly got into an 0-2 hole after looking at the first pitch for a strike and fouling off the next. He took the next two offerings out of the zone before rifling a 2-2 pitch into right-center to bring home the tying and winning runs.
The Saints got down 5-0 to the Troasts in the top of the fourth inning as three errors allowed four unearned runs to score. But Manistee got right back into the thick of it in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four times thanks to a grand slam from Passinault who launched the first pitch he saw over the rightfield fence to make it a 5-4 game.
Starting pitcher Todd Schmitt tossed 3.2 innings and allowed the four unearned runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Dylan Bates came on in relief, picking up the win in 3.1 innings with one run allowed on four hits while striking out one and walking none.
Before Friday’s dramatic comeback win, the Saints (28-12) brought out the bats to open pool play with double-digit runs against the South Bend Royals and Lombard Orioles. Manistee topped the Royals 10-5 in the opener and then squashed the Orioles 12-5.
A baker’s dozen hits behind multi-hit efforts from Dom Palmara, Luke Linder, Finkbeiner, Alex Strickland and Sam Schmitt along with a two-run homer from Richardson put the Saints in the driver’s seat against South Bend. Manistee scored four runs in the third and five runs in the fourth to build a commanding 9-0 lead.
Every starter either collected a hit, scored a run or had an RBI with four (Finkbeiner, Strickland, Sam Schmitt and Richardson) getting at least one of each.
Manistee went up 10-0 in the sixth before the Royals scored five times in the bottom of the inning. But South Bend could muster no more against the Saints’ pitching staff.
Starting pitcher Sam Schmitt extended his scoreless innings streak in the tournament to 11 with four shutout frames for the Saints. He allowed just one hit and struck out seven while walking three. Tommy Reid pitched three innings of relief and picked up the win, allowing the five runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
In the second game of the day, the Saints went on a tear in the sixth inning to score eight runs against the Orioles. Danny Passinault racked up three hits, including two doubles, and three RBI while scoring twice. Stephen Weinert also had three runs driven in on two hits. Strickland picked up two hits, including a double, with an RBI and a run scored. Reid also had two hits and an RBI with two walks.
Starting pitcher Roddy MacNeil went the distance in the victory, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks.
MacNeil faced 33 batters and threw 124 pitches, 74 of which went for strikes.
The Saints continue World Series play Saturday and Sunday.