PRINCETON — United Methodist didn’t get too down after losing big in the first game for the championship of the Princeton Fastpitch Church League Tournament Saturday at West Side Park. They still had their ace in the hole.
Methodist captain Rex Lasson, a 61-year-old grandfather of seven, took to the rubber to pitch the second game. He struck out two and held St. Matthew’s heavy hitting lineup to seven hits with an assortment of offspeed pitches sprinkled in with a few heaters after they belted out 15 in the first game’s 14-1 rout off Lasson’s son, Brett.
“How we were able to put game 1 in delete box was amazing. Typically game 2 is a blowout too by winner of game 1,” Lasson said. “We never got the big inning we thought was coming. I didn’t know I could still go that many innings against a top team. I have surprised myself many times on that field over the years.
“But without our defense and sticks it would never have happened.”
The league championship is Methodist’s ninth since 1985, but first in 10 years.
The decisive game had a wild finish. St. Matthew’s scored one run in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 3. But they should have had more.
St. Matt’s loaded the bases with no outs off Lasson when left-handed batter Justin Harris bunted safely for a base hit to score teammate Eric Waca with the tying run. With the bases still loaded, Jon Henegar hit a soft pop to shortstop Brandon Mall, who dropped the ball. The infield fly rule was called and Methodist caught Matt Cochran off third base for a double play.
Jake Reinhardt singled to center, but with Michael Robinson about two or three steps from the plate, Harris was thrown out at third base to end the inning with the game tied at 3.
The first two Methodist batters reached on errors in the home half of the seventh. With two outs, Jeff Lucas dropped in a flare to right, bringing Todd Krost, pastor at Sheffield and Tiskilwa Methodist churches, rolling into home plate in a cloud of dust for the winning run.
Lucas joked about being in a contract year.
“What a finish with one of our new players, Pastor Todd Krost, scoring the game winner,” Lasson said. “Our team was typical of many in league this year. We lost some players and picked up several who were big contributors. Todd, Brandon Sierens, Dylan Olson and Kevin Alt came on and gave us a huge boost with our regulars.
“It was great fun to win one with all these guys. This is my fourth generation team in my 30 years. And each generation won the top spot at least once.”
St. Matt’s did all of damage in two innings in the first game, scoring six runs on five hits in the first and eight more on seven hits in the third. Erica Waca led the onslaught with three hits and three RBIs with Dayton Ince, Tim Forristall, Jon Henegar, Robinson and Harris adding two each.
Winning pitcher Brad Snethen scattered eights hits, allowing a single run in the fifth inning. He also started the second game, surrendering three runs and six hits in two innings. Chris Waca pitched four scoreless innings in relief until Methodist broke through in the seventh.
Church bulletin: The last nine league championships were decided by single-game outcomes. Methodist was the last league winner to need a second-game victory, defeating Bunker Hill 4-1 in 2003 after a 3-2 loss. Methodist also went two games in 1992 over Covenant and 1985 over LaMoille Baptist. The last team to string two finals victories to claim the crown was Princeton Bible in 1983 over Covenant.