If Thursday’s game at Saint Louis University High was a test for the Mehlville Senior High baseball team, it appears that the Panthers passed with flying colors.
Mehlville (7-4) found itself down 4-0 before recording an out in the game and 5-0 after just two innings of action. But the Panthers began to rally in the third inning. Mehlville hammered out three runs in the third and followed with four more in the fourth inning en route to a 9-7 win over the Junior Billikens.
The win proved the Panthers could hang with the area’s best teams, even when facing almost certain defeat.
“It was good for us on several different levels,” head coach Jim Kern told the Call. “In addition to falling behind, we gave up four runs in the first without an out. It would have been easy for the players to say, ‘this could be a game that we can’t win.’ But these players didn’t think that.”
Mehlville starting pitcher Mike Zeller threw four innings, giving up six earned runs on 11 hits. He walked two and struck out four for the win. The junior pitcher is 3-1 with a 3.68 earned run average.
“Mike started out without his best pitches and it’s important that when you don’t have your best stuff, you’re still able to get outs,” Kern said. “He really kept them off balance and did everything he could to win.”
Senior pitcher Jake Morgan came in to relieve Zeller in the fifth, giving up two hits in three innings. Morgan also had 10 strikeouts in his first save of the 2005 season.
“Jake came in during the fifth inning and had one of his best outings,” Kern said. “He was able to get out there and work efficiently and get some very good SLUH hitters out.”
The Panther’s Josh Ruble, who’s batting a stout .480, finished the day 3-3 at the plate, including one run batted in, one run scored and a stolen base.
Offensively, Ruble is strong, but defensively, he’s just as tough, Kern said.
“Defensively, he’s made every play at second base for us,” he said.
“He’s been on fire for us and it seems like every situation he’s in, he steps it up for us,” Kern said
Mehlville welcomes Lindbergh to town for a Suburban West Conference game at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 20.
“I think they’re going to surprise many teams this year,” Kern said. “They’re running through some early problems, but they’ll get it turned around.
“We can’t take them lightly at all because they’re going to come out and want to win,” he said.