|5/8/2012 1:58:00 PM|
Statesmen advance in Region 24 tourney
|Lincoln Trail College’s Taylor Banks slides across the plate after avoiding the tag by the Southwestern Illinois catcher during Sunday’s Region 24 tournament game in Robinson. The Statesmen would win the game, 12-7, to take the best-of-three series and advance to the next round at Kaskaskia College in Centralia this weekend. (Josh Brown photo)|
Two teams could not have been more evenly-matched coming into their first-round matchup in the Region 24 Baseball Tournament.
Fourth-seeded Lincoln Trail College and fifth-seeded Southwestern Illinois College split two doubleheaders last weekend, with each team winning on the other's home field once.
That set up a rematch in the first round of the tournament, with the best-of-three series being played in Robinson over the weekend.
The two teams had a repeat performance of the previous weekend, as they split Saturday's doubleheader.
Southwestern Illinois scored an 8-4 victory in the first game, while Lincoln Trail rebounded to outslug SWIC in game two, 13-9, to stay alive and force a deciding third game on Sunday.
In Sunday's rubber match, the higher seed was able to hold serve, as the Statesmen once again piled up the runs in a 12-7 win to advance to the second round.
"I told the guys I felt like the last four or five weeks I started to see us come together as a team," LTC head coach Kevin Bowers said. "This whole weekend was a perfect example of that. We had different guys coming through all the time and we just kept battling it out."
The weekend didn't start out well for the Statesmen, as Southwestern Illinois appeared to take control of the series with their game one win.
Southwestern Illinois scored three times in the their first at-bat and never trailed. The Statesmen were down 4-1 after two innings and 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, before LTC broke through for three runs to close the gap to 6-4. However, SWIC tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth to seal the win.
Max Cain led the LTC offense with a single and two runs batted in, while Brayden Freeman doubled, knocked in a run and scored a run. Cam Chestnut doubled and scored a run, Josh Whitmer added a base hit and a run batted in, Matt Rodgers singled and scored a run and Gavin Funkhouser scored a run.
Jake Hall took the loss on the mound, giving up five runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds innings, while walking five and striking out five. Ryan Wells went the rest of the way, allowing three runs on one hit, while walking three and striking out four in three and one-third innings of relief.
Game two had a similar start, with SWIC scoring twice in the first, but this time LTC had an answer. The Statesmen exploded for seven runs in the third inning to take a 7-2 lead, but SWIC chipped away, scoring twice in the fourth and fifth innings and once more in the sixth to tie the game. Lincoln Trail came right back with two more in the bottom of the sixth to grab a 9-7 edge, then each team scored once in the seventh to make the score 10-8. Southwestern Illinois scored again in the eighth to close the gap to 10-9, but a three-run home run by Ariel Sanchez in the bottom of the eighth gave the Statesmen the insurance they would need.
Sanchez powered the LTC offense with a home run, two singles, five runs batted in and two runs scored, while Chestnut had three doubles, a single and two runs scored. Rodgers posted two hits, two runs batted in and two runs scored, Taylor Banks had two singles, two runs scored and a run batted in, Dominic Faron singled, drove in two runs and scored a run, Ron Shelton singled, drove in a run and scored twice, Funkhouser had a base hit and two runs batted in, Cain singled and scored a run and Freeman scored a run.
Josh Dove earned the win in relief, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks in three innings. Nolan Clayton started and went four and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts, while Ben Kennedy allowed a hit and a walk in the final one and one-third innings to record the save.
Sunday's deciding game also had an ominous start for the Statesmen, as SWIC struck for six runs in the top of the second to take a 6-0 lead. Lincoln Trail stormed right back, exploding for seven runs in the bottom of the inning for a 7-6 lead they would never relinquish. The Statesmen tacked on two more in the third for a 9-6 advantage, then added two more in the fifth and another in the seventh for a 12-6 lead. Southwestern Illinois would plate a run in the eighth, but it was too little, too late.
"They have been battling all year," Bowers said. "We haven't been out of too many games this year and that is a testament to their spirit and will to win."
Banks topped LTC at the plate with a double, two singles, three runs scored and a run batted in, while Chestnut doubled, singled, drove in three runs and scored a run. Rodgers homered, doubled, knocked in a run and scored twice, Faron had three hits and two runs batted in, Shelton singled twice, drove in a run and scored a run, Sanchez added two hits and a run scored, Cain singled, knocked in two runs and scored a run, Freeman singled, drove in a run and scored twice and Funkhouser singled and scored a run.
"One through nine in the line-up had good at-bats all weekend," Bowers said. "Momentum is a funny thing. Once we got the lead, we were able to keep tacking on."
Noah Buettgen settled in after a rough second inning and gutted out seven innings to get the win, allowing six runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Josh Weisman tossed the final two innings, giving up a run on four hits while striking out two.
"Noah got away from throwing and started pitching and hit his spots, then we started making plays behind him," Bowers said. "He sunk his teeth in and got his first win of the year. He has pitched some pretty good games and had some hard luck this year. It is a testament to his toughness, because today it would have been easy for him to fold, but he didn't."
Lincoln Trail (23-28) advances to the next round of the Region 24 Tournament this weekend, with double-elimination play beginning Friday at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.
In other first round action, Wabash Valley beat Kaskaskia in three games, John A. Logan took out Southeastern Illinois in two games and Lake Land upset Rend Lake in three.
The Statesmen will play second-seeded Wabash Valley in their first game at noon Friday, while top-seeded John A. Logan will play sixth-seeded Lake Land at 3 p.m.
"A wise but not so old man once told me this will boil down to who wants to be done and who isn't ready to go home," Bowers said. "These guys enjoy each other and are ready to battle. In a double-elimination tournament, anything can happen. I like the depth in our bullpen and we have scratched out runs against some tough pitchers. We are a different club than we were at the beginning of the season. They are a tough group and are hard to put away. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out."
2012 Region 24 Baseball Tournament
At Parker Field, Robinson
Southwestern Illinois 310 001 102 - 8 7 1
Lincoln Trail College 100 000 300 - 4 5 3
WP - Derek Emily 6.2IP, 4R, 4H, 0BB, 3K; James Range 2.1IP, 0R, 1H, 1BB, 4K. LP - Jake Hall 5.2IP, 5R, 7H, 5BB, 5K; Ryan Wells 3.1IP, 3R, 1H, 3BB, 4K. 2B - Arnold (SW), Meyer (SW), Chestnut (LT), Freeman (LT). HR - Daily (SW).
Southwestern Illinois 200 221 110 - 9 9 3
Lincoln Trail College 007 002 13x - 13 14 1
WP - Josh Dove 3IP, 3R, 4H, 3BB, 0K; Nolan Clayton 4.2IP, 6R, 4H, 1BB, 3K; Ben Kennedy 1.1IP, 0R, 1H, 1BB, 0K (save). LP - A.J. Crutchfield 2IP, 3R, 6H, 1BB, 1K; Caleb Tatum 3.1IP, 6R, 6H, 2BB, 1K; Zach Sedlacek 2IP, 3R, 3H, 1BB, 0K; Miles Quintal 0IP, 1R, 3H, 0BB, 0K; Forrest Hermann ,2IP, 0R, 0H, 0BB, 1K. 2B - Wetzler (SW), Arnold (SW), Chestnut (LT) 3. HR - Sanchez (LT).
Southwestern Illinois060 000 010 - 7 11 0
Lincoln Trail College 072 020 10x - 12 17 2
WP - Noah Buettgen 7IP, 6R, 3ER, 7H, 2BB, 6K; Josh Weisman 2IP, 1R, 1ER, 4H, 0BB, 2K. LP - Kevin Lashley .1IP, 1R, 1ER, 3H, 0BB, 0K; Bill McFarland 1.2IP, 6R, 6ER, 5H, 3BB, 2K; David Parkinson .2IP, 2R, 2ER, 1H, 3BB, 1K; Forrest Hermann 2.1IP, 2R, 2ER, 3H, 1BB, 1K; Andrew Buehler 3IP, 1R, 1ER, 5H, 2BB, 1K. 2B - Doll (SW), Simmons (SW), Chestnut (LT), Banks (LT). HR - Rodgers (LT).
Next game - Lincoln Trail (23-28) will play in the final four of the Region 24 Tournament beginning Friday at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.
Article Comment Submission Form