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ALTAMONT – Derek Childress gritted through nine innings on the mound with a sore elbow, Vandalia played sound defense when it mattered most and Collin Nestleroad reached on an error in the bottom of the ninth to give Post 95 a walk-off win in East Division championship game of the Jr. Legion District Tournament.
By beating Altamont 2-1 on Sunday, Post 95 automatically becomes one of the teams to represent District 23 in this weekend’s Division Tournament in West Frankfort.
“It’s so great,” said coach Jake Riedle. “They are finally getting that winning feel, because they used to put in a ton of work, but come out on the short end (in starting the season at 2-5).
“They deserve this, because of how hard they have worked this year.”
With runners on second and third bases and two outs in the ninth, Nestleroad lifted a routine fly ball to right field, but the fielder appeared to take his eye off of the ball for a split second and it bounced off of his glove and trickled onto the grass.
Schaal easily scored from third base to give Post 95 the East Division crown
“He was right under it, but it hit off of his glove and lands, so we move on to Murphysboro,” Riedle said. “It’s a shame it had to be that way instead of a base hit, because that player had played a great game.”
Added Nestleroad, “I went up there and just wanted to get a hit to win the game. I thought we were going another inning.”
The error ended a game that saw Vandalia’s offense struggle, as it pounded out just one hit during the game – a first-inning RBI single by Tylor Knisley that scored Nestleroad – but Post 95 drew nine walks to regularly pressure Altamont during the game.
Post 512 also had offensive struggles of its own, as Childress tossed a complete game for Vandalia, striking out five while allowing just 12 base runners – all coming in the first seven innings.
Altamont’s lone run came in the third after an error and two singles, but the only other serious threat after that was in the seventh.
Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out, leaving Riedle wondering if he should have put in a reliever for the lefty from Mulberry Grove, who was battling soreness in his right elbow.
“Several times with Derek, I wondered if I should have gotten Drake Hall loose, but Derek would pitch through it,” Riedle said. “In the seventh, they got the bases loaded, and I really thought I may have left him in there too long.”
Two pitches later, however, Childress fielded a quick comebacker to the mound, threw to the plate for an out, and catcher Carson Smith fired the ball to first to complete the double play and end the inning.
Altamont could have threatened again in the ninth had it not been for Dalton Crisman’s defense.
Jacob Miller ripped a high line drive to the left-center field gap on the third pitch of the ninth, but Crisman sprinted over to make a leaping catch, and Crisman then recorded the final out of the inning by catching another flyball in left.
“That first one to lead off the ninth, if he doesn’t sprint there and make a catch, it’s at least a double or triple to start the inning,” Riedle said. “If he doesn’t make those plays, they are probably leaving with a win instead of us.”
Sunday, July 21
WP: Childress; 9 IP, 5 K
Post 95: Knisley, 1-for-3, RBI, SB, BB; Schaal, run, SB, BB; Nestleroad, run, 2 BB; Ledbetter, 3 BB, HBP, 2 SB; Smith, BB; Bowen, BB.