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Senior Legion loses seventh one-run game

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By Jonathan Stark

Monday night, Post 95 suffered its seventh one-run loss of the season and 12th loss overall, a statistic that haunts head coach Steve Hosick.

Hosick said Tuesday that he thinks the players, “small town” mentality is partly to blame for the team's close losses. He thinks the players have a state of mind that tells them that playing a team close is good enough.

Vandalia’s Legion team pulls the best players from surrounding schools such as Mulberry Grove, Patoka and of course, Vandalia. Hosick doesn’t understand why this group, which is the best the area has to offer, cannot get over its season-long woes.

Monday Vandalia played a double-header against Effingham, which was a makeup from the doubleheader, rained out on Sunday.

Effingham 5 - Vandalia 4

Effingham struck early, scoring its first three batters of the game after, the first five batters reached base. From there, Vandal’s pitcher Kory McCloskey was able to settle down and pitch two scoreless innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, down 4-0, Mitch Lewis, who has been hot of late, ripped an RBI single to get Vandalia on the board.

Kimbro was walked to open up the bottom of the fifth and Ryan Thiele was hit by a pitch two batters later to get two on with one-out for Vandalia. Brenden Wasmuth drove in Kimbro on a base hit, but Wasmuth was thrown out going into second. Dallas Gray walked to put the tying run on base.

Zack Maquess came through in the clutch with a double, scoring Thiele and Gray, tying the game at 4-4.

Effingham got their leadoff man for the sixth on base with a walk. He would move up to third with the help of a single and walk, which also loaded the bases. McClusky struck out the sixth hitter, but the seventh flew out to left. The ball was deep enough to score the runner from third and give Effingham a 5-4 lead.

Vandalia had just one hit over the last two innings and went three-up, three-down in the bottom of the seventh, all on pop-ups.

McKluskey pitched seven complete innings, striking out eight.

Effingham 12 - Vandalia 2

The loss stuck with Vandalia in the second game and they were 10-run ruled, 12-2.

Effingham scored in all but one inning.

Vandalia's runs came in the second and fifth. Lewis hit a one-out double in the second and would score on a single by Jon Spicer two batters later.

Gray hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth and as he was rounding third to shake Hosick’s hand he said, “Why couldn’t I have done that in the first game when we needed it?”

Gray was 2-for-3 on the day. Spicer was 1-for-2 with a walk and RBI.

Luke Murfin was back for the first time in two weeks after suffering an ankle injury while playing basketball. He pitched toward the later part of the game. Hosick said Murfin expressed interest in pitching against T-Town on Thursday, but Hosick wanted to take things slow and make sure he had enough rest.

Vandalia is now 4-12 on the season.

The Senior Legion will be in action again this Thursday, against T-Town at home for two games, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday they will play a doubleheader at Highland at 5 p.m., and Sunday, they will play a doubleheader at Olney at 2 p.m.

Centralia 6 - Vandalia 5

Midway through the season, Post 95 looks as if they have finally found its offense. Despite losing both games of a doubleheader against Centralia last thursday, Vandalia had some of the best run production it has seen all season. The Vandals scored five runs in the first game and six in the second, but still came up a run short in each game.

“We have not just been in these ball games, we’ve played good enough to win these ball games,” Hosick said. “We’ve made some silly mistakes at times that have cost us some unnecessary runs.”

In game one, Vandalia was able to break through in the top of the first. With runners on a first and second, a base hit by Zack Marquess drove in Dallas Gray from second.

On the mound for Vandalia was Mitch Lewis. He was able to force a lot of ground balls and pop-ups during his six innings on the mound, but also gave up a lot of hits to go along with those easy outs.

Centralia was able to load the bases twice during the bottom of the first and scored two runs.

Vandalia had a great opportunity to score some more runs in the top of the second. The Vandals loaded the bases with one out, but a strikeout and a pop up ended their threat. The fourth inning was extremely fruitful for Vandalia, as Gray and Cody Wimberly hit back-to-back home runs giving Post 95 a 5-2 lead.

A couple of hits and mental errors by Vandalia allowed Centralia back into the game in the bottom half of the fourth.

With runners on second and third, a routine ground ball to the third baseman, turned from an exchange for and out for a run, into just a run. A rushed throw was wide of first base. The run scored and the batter was safe, cutting the lead to 5-3.

After the error, both runners were in scoring position, at second and third. A base hit to left cut it to 5-4. The following batter flew out to left, but the ball was deep enough for the runner to tag from third and tie the game at five.

With a runner on second and two out, a misplayed ball hit to right field, allowed the runner to score and give Centralia a 6-5 lead.

Both teams went scoreless over the final 2 1/2 innings to give Centralia the 6-5 win.

“These one-run ball games that we’re losing, we need to convince ourselves that we deserve to win them,” Hosick said.

Effingham 7 - Vandalia 6

In game two of the night, Vandalia had its ace on the mound, Drew Baldridge. Of the Vandals four wins this summer he has been on the mound for three of them. Although Post 95 has pitching depth, Baldridge is the only pitcher to get reasonable run support this season.

In the top of the first, with two out, Wimberly walk and was followed up with a seeing-eye single by Gray.

The next batter hit a groundball to the shortstop, but a bad throw to first, went into the dugout. Wimberly was given the base he was going to, third, plus one, home. Vandalia was on the board 1-0.

Centralia threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the first. With two out and a runner on second, a base hit down the left field line looked to tie the game. A good cut and a spot on throw by Wimberly to Lewis arrived at the home a few steps before the runner and cut him down at the plate keeping Vandalia’s 1-0 lead intact.

“Zack came up throwing from left field and Wimberly made a nice cut,” Lewis said.  

In the bottom of the second, with a runner on third, Colby Cooper at second base fielded a routine ground ball and instead of throwing to first for the easy out, he threw home to prevent the run from scoring.

“They saved a couple runs that would have been key in this game,” Lewis said.

Despite Vandalia’s two run-saving plays early in the game, Centralia was able to get on the board in the third. Baldridge loaded the bases and then walked into the tying run. Centralia would score two more times in the inning.

Just like in the first game, the fourth inning would prove to be the magic one for Vandalia.

They lead the inning off with back-to-back singles and a bunt moved the runners up to second and third. A walk loaded the bases for Marquess.

“Coach said be ready to hit the first pitch and he served it up to me on a platter and I just hit it,” Marquess said.

His grand slam to left-center gave Vandalia a 5-3 lead. Wimberly followed him with a single and Mitch hit a shot to the right field gap, scoring Wimberly. Post 95 led 6-3.

Centralia scored two more times in the fourth before Coach Hosick pulled Baldridge and brought on Wimberly to pitch.

A squeeze play by Centralia tied the game at six.

In the top of the sixth, Vandalia had a chance to take the lead back as they loaded the bases with one out. The next two batters struck out swinging.

In the bottom of the sixth Centralia had runners on first and second with two out. A single to right-center scored the go-head run giving Centralia a 7-6 edge.

Vandalia’s last chance to score went up three-up, three-down, all of which were strikeouts.  

Saturday’s nine-inning game against Olney was canceled due to rain. Make up dates have not been set for any of Post 95’s rainouts. They have four games to make up.