SE baseball team holds off H-D

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla St. Edmond’S Nick Bennett makes a throw against Hampton-Dumont on Wednesday evening at Rogers Park. For more photos, please visit

The resiliency of the St. Edmond baseball team was on display at Rogers Park here on Wednesday night.

First, the Gaels fell behind 5-2 against Hampton-Dumont in a North Central Conference contest.

Then they had to endure rainy conditions that made the field conditions less than desirable.

Finally, they had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh to come away with a 7-5 win.

For the second straight evening, the Gaels were in early hole. Just like Tuesday night’s win over North Union, though, St. Edmpond held the opponent scoreless over the other six innings to get to the .500 mark for the season at 6-6.

“That’s a big win. Just huge,” said SEHS head coach Mike Szalat, whose team is now 3-4 in the North Central Conference. “We got down 4-0 (against North Union on Tuesday) and came back. We are building some character.

“I have to give credit to (former head coach) Joe Shanks. In my 10 years as an assistant, were always able to adjust as the game went on. I learned that from him. Joe always stuck with kids, whether they were 0-for-2 or struggling on the mound. The kids appreciate that. And it’s worked for us.”

Connor Bocken worked out of the bases-loaded jam in the seventh, getting a ground ball and two strikeouts to end it. He earned the save after Jake Szalat worked the first 6 1/3 innings before reaching his pitch count.

Szalat allowed just four hits and had worked his way out of several jams as well, leaving runners in scoring position in the first, second and fifth innings. The only time the Bulldogs (5-7, 3-4) got to him was in the fourth when he walked three batters and the Gaels committed two errors.

“The rain didn’t really help us,” said Coach Szalat. “Jake couldn’t get his footing there for a while. But he worked through it, which is a testament to him.

“That was big for Bocken there. He’s got moxie. The other kids can feed off that.”

Bocken also stranded Bulldog runners at first and second in the sixth inning as well.

The Gaels actually led 2-0 after the third inning, getting an RBI single from Nick Bennett and scoring another run on a wild pitch. The Bulldogs then put on their five-spot, highlighted by a 2-run single from Zarek Mahler.

Three walks, two errors and a wild pitch helped the Bulldogs score their other three runs.

St. Edmond cut it to 5-4 in the bottom of the fourth. Cael Kolacia had a sacrifice fly to score Chris Baker from third, then Jack McEvoy had an RBI groundout, scoring Noah Carlson.

The Gaels got three in the fifth to take the upper hand. Bocken had an RBI single to plate Jackson Kochendofer before Szalat had a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt to bring in Jeremiah Wheeler with the go-ahead run.

Bocken scored an insurance run on a wild pitch. Bocken finished with two hits while Kochendorfer added a double.

Mahler had three hits for the Bulldogs.