The Vandalia High School baseball team faced its final county foe on Monday, traveling to Kinmundy to play South Central. The Vandals went 4-2 against the other five schools this season. South Central, whose record is almost the exact opposite of Vandalia’s at 13-4, was on its heels all night, but came away with the 5-4 win after coming from behind twice.
“It was a good one for the fans to watch, not a good one if you’re sitting where I am,” Vandalia coach Luke Hohlt said.
South Central had one of its best pitchers on the mound in Derek Harmeier, but Vandalia was able to able to hit the ball well early on and take a 2-0 lead in the first.
Craig Freeman led the game off with an infield single to third and moved up to second on a bad throw to first. Dathan Berning followed, reaching on an error by the shortstop to put runners on the corners with no outs. Ryan Thiele drove in Freeman on a double to the left-center gap. Two batters later, Trevor Montgomery singled to left, scoring Berning.
“I was pleased, but we still need to put the ball in play and make things happen,” Hohlt said. “It’s something that you have to continue to do and find a way.”
Freeman was also on the mound for the Vandals. He allowed to runners to reach base in the first two innings, but pitched out of both jams.
“He totally bounced back from his last start,” Hohlt said. “He did a real nice job for us, just got behind guys a little bit. But he got out of jams and made the pitches when he needed to make the pitches.”
The Cougars finally broke through in the third with a three-run rally. With two already retired, Freeman walked the next two batters, and Shane Donoho made him pay with a home run to right field. The shot put South Central on top, 3-2.
Two more runners reached base on errors after the homer, but Freeman worked out of a jam again.
South Central’s lead didn’t last long. Freeman hit a one-out double in the top of the fourth and Berning followed with an RBI triple. Thiele singled to score Berning and give the lead back to Vandalia, 4-3. Thiele was picked off, but TK Kinkead and Montgomery followed with back-to-back singles, but Vandalia couldn’t drive them in.
Freeman walked two more to start the bottom of the fourth, and Thiele was brought on to pitch. He forced a pop-up to the second baseman and then induced a double play to get out of the inning.
Harmeier began to settle down in the fifth, retiring the Vandals in order.
“Derek settled down after the first few innings, after they racked him all over the park,” South Central Coach Curt Jones said.
Donoho was the catalyst for the Cougars again in the fifth. Instead of hitting the ball far, he bunted one short and reached on a bunt single. Coby Bushue doubled scoring Donoho, tying the game 4-4.
The Vandals went three-up, three-down again in the sixth.
Kyle Monical reached base on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of of the sixth for South Central and moved up to third on a single to center by Tyler Gillett.
After taking his secondary lead off first base, Gillett slipped and fell down. Montgomery threw down to second and Gillett got caught in a rundown. Monical broke for home, and Vandalia threw to the plate too late to get him out. The run proved to be the difference. The Vandals got out of the inning without giving up any more runs, but could not score in the top of the seventh.
“It did kind of come down to some of Vandalia’s mistakes," Jones said. "We had a few, too, but ours didn’t hurt us as bad as theirs hurt them.”
Thiele took the loss and Harmeier picked up the win. Vandalia outhit South Central, 10-6.
“Vandalia played really well. They hit the heck out of the ball,” Jones said. “Harmeier has been very good this year.”
Vandalia is on the field again Friday, when it travels to Hillsboro to play at 4:15 p.m. It will turn around and host Centralia on Saturday at 11 a.m. and start the week at Litchfield on Monday at 4:15 p.m.
South Central will host Noble on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and then be on the road Monday at T-Town at 4:30 p.m.
Vandalia adding a doubleheader against Patoka to the schedule right before the season began proved to be fruitful for both schools, as both were able to record a win. After falling in game one, Vandalia bounced back in game two, defeating the Warriors, 8-2.
Kyle Hawkins picked up the win for Vandalia, going six innings, striking out nine and allowing one hit.
The Vandals were all over pitcher Drew Baldrige from the start, plating three runs in the first frame and four more in the second.
Hohlt pulled Hawkins after the fourth inning to preserve his arm, but ended up putting him back in for the sixth and seventh after Patoka scored two runs in the fourth of Kinkead. Hawkins settled back in and closed out the game to get the win.
Kinkead went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs batted in. Leyton Godoyo, who has been getting more playing time lately, went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in.
Nick Beard went 2-for-3 with two doubles for the Warriors.
Patoka pitcher Luke Murfin has already thrown one no-hitter this year and Saturday morning he almost threw his second. Murfin struck out 16 batters and gave up only one hit as Patoka handled Vandalia, 8-0.
The Vandals and the Warriors were in a tight battle throughout the game, as Vandalia starting pitcher Ryan Thiele was also wheeling and dealing on the mound, striking out six and giving up three runs on three hits in five innings of work.
Patoka was able to push across its first run in the second inning and held a 1-0 lead until the fourth inning when it tacked on two more runs.
The Warriors put the game out of reach by scoring five runs in the last two innings.
Montgomery had Vandalia’s lone hit.
Beard went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four runs batted in for Patoka. Dylan Adams went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Vandalia won its second South Central Conference game with a win over East Alton-Wood River on Friday. The Vandals beat the Oilers 11-1 in five innings.
Three runs in the first inning set the pace for Vandalia’s offense. With two runners on base and one run already in, Montgomery singled up the middle to drive in two more. Montgomery scored two batters later when Ian Murrel singled to left.
Vandalia was able to get a couple of runners on in the second, but could push any runs across. Hawkins was on the mound for the Vandals and cruised through the first four innings, allowing only two batters to reach base.
“We had a 4-0 lead there for about two or three innings, and that’s when you have to push on,” Hohlt said. “In the second inning, we had guys on; we just didn’t finish. We’ve just got to get runs and keep going and going and going until the game is over.”
Berning kicked off a two-out rally for Vandalia in the bottom of the fourth. He singled to left and moved up to third on a steal and a passed ball. Thiele followed with a walk to put runners on the corners. The Oilers pitcher made a move to first, and Thiele froze and ended up getting caught in a rundown. Berning came into score during the chaos, and Thiele ended up making it to third.
When the madness settled down, Kinkead was able to reach on an error, allowing Thiele to score and put Vandalia up 6-0. Montgomery came up big again and missed a home run by a couple of feet, doubling off the centerfield wall. Kinkead scored from first on the play.
East Alton was finally able to get to Hawkins in the fifth. A couple of doubles plated the Oilers' only run of the day.
Murrel was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the fifth and came into score on a two-out single to right by Freeman. Berning followed with a walk, and both runners scored when Thiele hit a ground ball to the shortstop, and he threw the ball away.
Kinkead put an end to the game, doubling to left center, driving in Thiele and giving Vandalia a 10-run lead.
Hawkins allowed just the one run on four hits and no walks. He struck out four. He won his second straight decision to move to 2-1 on the year.
“Hawkins is doing a really nice job for us. His only mistakes are when he brings the ball over the plate, but that’s every pitcher,” Hohlt said. “As long as he keeps those minimal, then we’re going to be in great shape, and so far he’s done that.”
Freeman, Kinkead, Berning and Montgomery all had two hits apiece.
Vandalia stole five bases against the Oilers and were very aggressive on the base paths all day.
“We’ve got to be more aggressive, and part of that is on me being timid,” Hohlt said. “In high school ball, you have to make the defense make plays. There’s a point where you can be stupid, but we took advantage of the catcher’s arm and lack of experience out there. And it was good.”