Prep baseball: Frontier rallies to defeat St. John Central, 13-7

NEW MATAMORAS – The Frontier Cougars used a big, nine-run fourth inning to erase a 6-0 deficit, and went on to defeat the St. John Central Fighting Irish 13-7 Friday night at Frontier High School.

St. John scored six times off of Frontier starting pitcher Drew Schneider in the second frame and appeared to be well on their way to an easy road victory.

Frontier head coach Erin Curtis and his Cougars had a whole different idea, however.

“We’ve got down in games all year and battled we just hadn’t been able to make it all the way back,” said Curtis, in his second year as Cougar skipper. “We got some timely hits and were able to get one tonight.”

The Irish collected six hits in the second inning including two-run hits by center fielder Alex Francis and left fielder Lance Williams to grab the early lead.

Curtis elected to replace Schneider on the mound with Mitch Minder and the junior southpaw responded in a big way as he allowed St. John just one unearned run the rest of the way.

With Minder holding the Irish bats in check, the Cougar offense began to mount their comeback by scoring a single run in the third inning.

Austin Amos knocked in the third inning run with one of his three singles in the game.

St. Johns starting pitcher Malik Ford had stifled the Cougars through the first three innings on just three hits but his inability to find the strike zone gave the Cougars the break they were looking for in the fourth.

Josh Kirkbride was hit by a pitch to begin the inning and Cris Comstock and Lane Curtis followed with back-to-back walks.

Quinn Meyers came into the game in relief of Ford and promptly walked Jay Eddy to force in a run and make it a 6-2 game.

Levi Cochran followed with a single and Cody Mendenhall drew the second bases loaded walk of the inning to close the lead to two.

Amos drilled a single up the middle to make it 6-5 and after Meyers fanned Minder for the first out of the inning, Schneider’s fly ball to center field was dropped by Francis allowing the tying and go ahead runs to cross the plate.

Kirkbride then singled sharply to left field to plate two more runs and Curtis’ RBI single capped the nine- run rally and gave the Cougars a 10-6 lead heading to the fifth.

Given the four-run lead to work with, Minder seemed to really find his groove on the hill as he retired nine of the first 10 hitters that he faced, including six via the strikeout.

“We were hoping to save him but he’s done a heck of a good job for us and we needed him tonight,” said Coach Curtis of his lefty hurler. “He just comes in and throws strikes, and he has been doing that for us all year.”

St. John finally reached Minder for an unearned run in the top of the sixth and threatened for more as it loaded the bases with two outs, but the Cougar ace rallied to strike out Williams and leave the bases loaded.

Frontier got that run back and a few more for insurance in their half of the sixth as Kirkbride drilled a two-run double and Curtis picked up his second RBI of the game with a ground out to second base.

Minder allowed a lead off double in the top of the seventh but retired the final three hitters in order to even the Cougars season record at 3-3.

Kirkbride paced the 10-hit Frontier attack with a pair of hits and four RBI while Amos collected three hits in four at bats.

Minder threw five innings of three-hit ball while fanning eight Irish hitters to claim the victory, while Meyers took the loss.

“This win puts us back to .500 and we just want to stay on top of things now instead of working from underneath,” said Curtis.

St. John slipped to 1-4 on the season with the loss.

The Cougars will have very little time to celebrate their come-from-behind win as they travel to Paden City Saturday for a doubleheader with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 12 noon.