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Jr. Legion nearly pulls off upset at district tournament

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By Andrew Harner

TEUTOPOLIS – Vandalia lost, but Jr. Legion coach TK Kinkead was still very proud of his players after they battled Effingham in the district tournament on Saturday.

Facing elimination, Post 95 held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but an error allowed two Effingham runners to score to give Post 120 a 3-2 victory.

“Everyone had the game of their life today,” Kinkead said. “Effingham creamed us last time, so to see us put up a fight and do what we did, that’s the best part.”

Jordan Miller, who missed the bulk of the season after getting hit in the face by a pitch in the season-opener, reached on an infield single to open the game, and after stealing second, he scored on a single from Zach Schaal.

Effingham evened the score in the bottom of the frame, when Devin Mayfield singled and scored on a double steal, but after that, Vandalia’s Clinton Hood would not allow another hit until the seventh.

Vandalia’s bats were also pretty quiet against Effingham’s Zach Gardewine, getting just two hits before scoring again in the sixth.

Schaal doubled and moved to third on a fielder’s choice from Jake Bowen, before Eric Gurtner crushed a triple to deep right-center field.

“Gurtner was a man today,” Kinkead said. “He had been hitting the hard, but right at somebody, all day, but on that last one, he drilled a gap.”

In the bottom of the inning, shortstop Johnnie Clift, who entered as a pinch hitter in the top of the frame, made a leaping catch and ranged far to his left to field a grounder on back-to-back plays. Effingham likely would have scored if those two outs had not been made.

“We got him in there for his bat, but then he made two ridiculous plays,” Kinkead said. “He likes to be in those situations.”

But in the bottom of the seventh, a walk and two singles combined with a Vandalia error to give Effingham the winning runs.

“Hoodie fell behind, and then we started throwing the ball around,” Kinkead said. “They got antsy, but it doesn’t take away from the great game we played.”

Saturday, July 14
Effingham 3
Vandalia 2
V: 1-0-0-0-0-1-0—2-6-2
E: 1-0-0-0-0-0-2—3-4-1
LP: Hood; 6+ IP, 5 K, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 HBP
Post 95: Schaal, 2-for-3, 2B, RBI, run; Miller, 2-for-3, run, SB; Gurtner, 1-for-3, 3B, RBI; Carson Smith, 1-for-3; Colin Ledbetter, BB; Bowen, BB.

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TEUTOPOLIS – Three weather delays marred the first round district tournament game between Vandalia and Teutopolis last Thursday, but once the rain stopped, Teutopolis came away with a 13-5 victory.

“The way the game ended up, the only way the rain affected us was that (Clinton Hood) couldn’t get into a pitching rhythm,” said coach TK Kinkead, “but T-Town had the same thing and executed better than we did.”

The game was delayed for about 20 minutes at the start because of a lightning strike, and pouring rain interrupted the game before the first inning was finished. A third delay for rain was called a couple of innings later.

Hood, the staff ace, only lasted 1 1/3 innings on the mound, walking seven and allowing four runs.

Despite that, Vandalia was only behind, 4-3 after two innings, because Post 95 had taken advantage of several errant pitches to score three runs after Zach Schaal walked, Eric Gurtner singled and Johnnie Clift walked.

“We started out pretty well, but guys started trying to do too much,” Kinkead said. “Then, we weren’t seeing the ball well and had poor situational hitting.”

In the bottom of the fourth, eight of 10 T-Town batters reached base allowing four runs to score, including three on a bases-loaded triple to center.

Post 95 got two runs back in the top of the fifth, with Colin Ledbetter walking and Quinn Wadkins singling to open the inning.

Ledbetter would score on a bases-loaded walk to Carson Smith, and Wadkins crossed the plate on a walk to Seth Allen.

Three straight hits from Teutopolis in the bottom of the frame would help it put three more runs across, though, and Vandalia was unable to produce much offense in either the sixth or the seventh innings.

Thursday, July 12
Teutopolis 13
Vandalia 5
V: 0-3-0-0-2-0-0—5-3-4
T: 2-2-0-6-3-0-X—13-8-1
LP: Nate Ketchem; 1 1/3+ IP, 0 K, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 H, 2 BB
Post 95: Allen, 1-for-3, RBI, BB; Gurtner, 1-for-1, run, SB, BB; Wadkins, 1-for-3, run, SB, BB; Clift, run, SB, BB; Smith, RBI, 2 BB; Schaal, run, BB; Ledbetter, run, BB; Derek Childress, BB; Collin Nestleroad, BB; Jordan Miller, BB.