BLOOMINGTON -- Saddled with a second six-run deficit in less than 48 hours, the Moline baseball team was not in an insurmountable hole.|
Two at-bats, though, made it that way.
A potential third-inning rally gave the Maroons hope as they had first and second with one out and a runner already home on Saturday. Neither runner was able to advance as Edwardsville pitcher Alex Meyers escaped the jam with a strikeout and ground out, a stretch that illustrated Moline's 10-1 loss in the Class 4A Bloomington Sectional championship game at Jack Horenberger Field.
"We get a base hit there, maybe it changes the momentum," Moline coach Craig Schimmel said. "That's happened quite a few times within our season. We have a tough time with runners in scoring position. It happened today.
"We couldn't get anything going."
Trailing 6-0 after Edwardsville scored four times in the second and added two more in the third, the Maroons (22-13) were faced with the same deficit for the second consecutive game. Moline scored seven unanswered runs in its sectional semifinal win over Joliet West, but the Tigers made sure their lead never was threatened.
Whenever Meyers needed a key out on the mound, he got one. The third inning epitomized his dominance.
After senior outfielder Braden Mosley's one-out, solo home run to left-center field got Moline on the board, Meyers allowed a single to Anfernee Crompton and a walk to Mitch Owens. Faced with his first real threat, Meyers struck out Andy Brill and got Brett Newberg to ground out to first.
"I thought we would gain momentum," Mosley said.
Instead, the Tigers (32-7) kept it.
Escaping the third-inning jam allowed Edwardsville to extend its lead. Back-to-back, run-scoring doubles from Brock Weimer and Aaron Jackson highlighted a the three-run fourth inning that gave the Tigers a 9-1 lead.
"They are a very consistent, solid team," Mosley said.
Pitching, though, was their strength on this day.
Moline had a runner reach base in six of the seven innings, but could only produce one run. Meyers, who entered with a 9-0 record and 0.69 ERA, allowed five hits and struck out six against two walks in 6 1/3 innings.
"Their pitching," Crompton said, "was dominant."
Only twice did a runner reach third base on Meyers.
"He was exceptional," Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser said. "He was sharp."
Forgotten in all this is how Edwardsville backed its pitcher.
Seven of the nine spots in the order produced a hit for the Tigers, who scored multiple runs in three innings. In winning its 16th sectional title, Edwardsville had 15 hits off three Moline pitchers.
"We tip our cap," Schimmel said. "They had 15 hits. Anytime someone gets 15 hits, you're going to have a tough time winning in this type of game."
As Schimmel put it, the Maroons " were never in that game."
"I don't know if we played with much energy," Schimmel said. "We have a roster full of 10 sophomores. I don't know if they were in awe of the moment. I don't know what the case is."
The Maroons do have a roster littered with youth, but they experienced a six-run comeback two days earlier and helped this team reach the sectional championship for the second consecutive year.
No doubt a painful loss. Then again, they do have something to build upon.
"Being so young, it sets a really good foundation for the future," Mosley said. "These guys are going to be able to do something big next year."
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