SPRING VALLEY – The Hall Red Devils followed a narrow 3-1 win over the Sherrard Tigers with an even closer tourney-eliminating 3-2 loss to the Mendota Trojans Saturday afternoon at Foley Field in the Legends Wooden Bat Tournament hosted by Putnam County High School.
“It’s a good confidence-builder,” said Mendota coach Aaron Sester of his team’s third win in 11 tries this year. “These guys are young. Our record does not show what kind of talent we have on this team. I think we’re starting to come around. This was a big win for our guys. They’ve been working hard this whole season.”
Mendota mounted an early two-out, two-run rally in the game’s first inning.
With two outs, No. 3 hitter Garet Zinke doubled to deep right center, Trae Blumhorst followed with a single to left, then Mendota soph Riley Schuhler delivered a clutch, two-run double to deep left field that staked the Trojans to a quick 2-0 lead.
All told, the Red Devils managed only three base hits, all singles, off Mendota senior starting pitcher Trae Blumhorst. Brett Fanning singled to center with two outs in the first and was stranded there.
Austin Schmitt singled to left to lead off the third, but was quickly erased on a 1-6-3 double play grounder. And Ian Trevier singled to right field to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
Mendota’s pivotal third run scored on an infield-fly-rule out in the fifth inning. The ball ticked off the glove of Hall catcher Adam Sangston, and Mendota runner Evan Schultz broke for third base. The anxious Hall defense ultimately threw the ball down the left field line, allowing Schultz to scamper home.
“I told our young kids at the beginning of the season, ‘Be aggressive, take the extra base, put pressure on the defense,’” Sester said. “I was thinking, actually, when (Schultz) took off from second, ‘no, no, no.’ And then they threw the ball away, and I was like, ‘all right, score.’ Heads up play by him.”
Fanning, who was hit by a pitch, scored Hall’s first run in the bottom of the fourth on a wild pitch.
Then, one inning later, Matt Boucher, who had walked, came plate-ward on a Mendota two-out error that could have ended the frame.
Thus, it was a 3-2 Mendota lead after five stanzas.
Hall left the potential game-tying-run on third base in both the sixth and seventh innings. Fanning walked, then stole both second and third base in the sixth, but Blumhorst responded by registering strikeouts of Hall’s fourth and fifth place hitters.
Trevier led off the seventh with a bloop single to right, stole second base, then moved to third on a Schmitt groundout.
Zach Urbanski, ahead 3-0 on the count, saw a called strike, then swung and missed at the next two pitches to end the game.
“That’s kind of been us, that’s been us,” said Hall coach Tom Keegan. “Sometimes we get those big hits, and sometimes we don’t. The losses that we have, we just have not been able to get those big hits.”
Blumhorst earned his first victory of the season on the mound, yielding two runs (one earned) on three hits, walking two, hitting one Red Devil, and striking out nine.
“Trae’s our No. 1 (pitcher), and he’s tough to beat when he’s on,” Sester said. “And when we make plays behind him, play normal defense, come regional time, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Schmitt went the distance on the mound for Hall (11-3), taking the hard luck loss. The Hall junior allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits, walking two, hitting one batter, and striking out nine Trojans.
“Schmitty threw well,” said Keegan. “Got off to a rough start there with the (two-run) double. That was two-thirds of their runs right there. He really settled down, got into a groove, and threw really well after that, got stronger and stronger as the game went on.”
“Just some unfortunate things, the fly ball error that was dropped and then the overthrow at third base. You get into close games, and those things are magnified. You (only) bust out for three hits and strike out nine times, it’s not a real good combination.”
Notes: Winning pitcher Danny Nolasco scattered six hits in Hall’s 3-1 win over Sherrard. .... Mendota was no-hit in an 9-0 loss to Sherrard in a game shortened to five innings by an eight-run rule per tournament rules.