Nikolas Schumann only joined the Sacred Heart Cathedral baseball team two weeks ago. He made just one plate appearance on Saturday against St. Ignatius in the Bruce-Mahoney game at AT&T Park.
But he certainly made that one appearance count.
With the Irish trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Schumann, pinch-hitting for Max Linich, uncorked a bases-clearing triple off a low, 0-2 fastball from Jonathan Hernandez. It was his first hit of the season.
After giving up a leadoff single to Rob Emery in the bottom of the seventh, Irish senior Tyler Martinez struck out the side to seal a 4-2 win for Sacred Heart Cathedral.
It was SHC's first win in three West Coast Athletic League games. The Irish are now 4-4-1 on the season.
Schumann plays football in the fall, and wrestles in the winter. Due to those obligations, he hasn't been able to throw or hit with any regularity. To rediscover his timing at the plate, he's made a habit of heading to the batting cages before and after practice -- and even during lunch.
But SHC coach Brian Morgan liked the way Schumann swung the bat in a 2-0 loss to Valley Christian on Friday, and felt confident giving him a shot in such a key moment.
"I was just trying to make contact, and get on base," Schumann said of his hit, the third for the Irish in that inning. "I've been really late on everything at the plate, so I'm really glad I was given the opportunity to pinch-hit today. When I get up there, I'm just trying to do as much as I can for the team."
Justin Marquez started the game for SHC and pitched 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out four.
After Marquez walked Logan Steinberg and Stephan Ostrowski in the top of the fifth inning, he was replaced with junior Ramiro Gonzalez. Gonzalez got out of the inning with a groundout and a strikeout. Martinez pitched two-hit ball through the sixth and seventh. He tallied four strikeouts.
"We're young and we're inexperienced [there are just six seniors on the roster of 20], but we keep improving," Morgan said. "That's the way it's going to be for us. It's going to be a battle the whole year."
St. Ignatius jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to hits from a pair of seniors. Joe O'Bryan singled home David Bastillos with two outs in the top of the second inning, and Steinberg, a shortstop who'll play at St. Mary's College next year, tripled into the right-center field gap to score Dylan Holborn-Welsh in the third.
"We got out early, and I felt good that we could get some runs up," Wildcats coach Matt Stecher said. "But we lost some momentum by not bringing in runs later in the game when we had the chance. They executed with runners on, and that was the difference in the game."
Hernandez pitched six innings for the Wildcats, giving up six hits and four runs. He had seven strikeouts. SI's record dropped to 7-4, 2-1 WCAL.