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VANDALIA – After watching the top seed fall in the game before theirs, the Warriors had all the more reason to get a win on Tuesday.
Playing as the No. 2 seed in the semifinals of the Egyptian-Illini Conference at Vandalia, Patoka allowed just three hits to Brownstown while piling on the runs in a five-inning, 13-0 win.
“This was our goal,” said coach Joe Eddy. “But, our objective wasn’t just to win tonight, it’s to go win Thursday’s championship game.”
In that game, which begins at about 7 p.m. on Thursday, the Warriors will meet No. 4 seed Beecher City, which beat St. Elmo, 7-5, in eight innings on Tuesday.
During the regular-season meeting, Patoka defeated Beecher City, 6-1, but the Warriors (12-2) can not overlook the Eagles (4-10).
“It’s going to be a battle. It always is with Beecher City,” Eddy said. “If you don’t keep them off balance, they will hit the ball.
“They aren’t going to come in and lay down just because they are the No. 4 seed.”
Against Brownstown, the Warriors put their first five batters on base in the bottom of the first inning, and all of them scored to give Patoka a 5-0 lead.
Ryan Miller and Seth Allen each had a two-run double in the inning to propel the offense.
“Our pitching staff is going to hold our opponents down, but we knew that we needed to score some runs early to put the pressure on them,” Eddy said. “You don’t want a team to play loose, and you want them to think that they need to make the plays to win.”
Another four runs came home in the second, with Jake Orrell smashing an RBI triple, Miller adding another RBI double and John Houston securing an RBI single.
“There are some second-tier guys (like Miller and Houston) who are starting to hit the ball well,” Eddy said. “When those top 3-4 guys get on, they are driving them in.”
The top three players in Patoka’s order – Quinn Wadkins, Orrell and Johnnie Clift – were a combined 4-for-7, with four walks, seven runs and three steals during the game.
Miller had four RBI from the No. 4 position, Houston had three RBI from the No. 6 position and Allen had two RBI from the No. 7 position.
All the while, Clift was throwing a fantastic game from the mound.
Five Bombers struck out in the first three innings, while just three reached base – one hit, one walk and one error.
Three additional runners would reach base in the final two innings, and Clift would finish with seven strikeouts.
He threw just 71 pitches, making him available as a reliever on Thursday, and keeping his arm fresh to play third base.
“That was something we needed, and he was very efficient,” Eddy said. “He kept us from having to throw our other pitchers tonight.”
Tuesday, Sept. 18
WP: Clift (4-0); 5 IP, 7 K
LP: Austin Hunter; 2 2/3 IP, 4 K
Warriors: Miller, 2-for-3, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 runs; Houston, 2-for-3, 3 RBI; Orrell, 1-for-2, 3B, RBI, 3 runs, 2 BB, SB; Allen, 1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI, BB; Wadkins, 2-for-4, 2 runs, SB, BB; Clift, 1-for-2, 2 runs, SB, BB; Clinton Hood, 1-for-2, 3 runs, BB, SB.
Bombers: Hunter, 1-for-2; Calvin Boggs, 1-for-2; Jeff Taylor, 1-for-2, SB.
In the first semifinal game, Beecher City knocked off top-seeded St. Elmo, 7-5, in eight innings.
Senior Connor Beasley homered in the third inning to break a 3-3 tie, but Beecher City added two runs in the sixth to tie the game and secured two more in the eighth.
St. Elmo left runners on base in both the seventh and eighth innings.
Dalton Parks had a three-hit game for the Eagles (6-8), who will play Brownstown in the third-place game at 4:15
p.m. on Thursday.
Tuesday, Sept. 18
Beecher City 7
St. Elmo 5
WP: Wheeler; 8 IP, 12 K
LP: Beasley (4-3); 1 2/3 IP, 2 K
Eagles: Beasley, 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI; Parks, 3-for-5; Alec Brady, 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Garrett Bartels, 1-for-3; Malachi Maxey, 1-for-3; Noah Flowers, 1-for-4; Levi Maxey, 1-for-5.