The Vandalia High School baseball team didn't opening the season against a pushover team, as Tuesday night it took on defending state champion Raymond-Lincolnwood.
The Vandals lost by a score of 8-4, but were in the game most of the way.
Craig Freeman was on the hill for Vandalia. He got into trouble in the first inning, giving up two runs. The Lancers plated another run in the fourth to go up 3-0 before Vandalia finally broke through in the bottom of the frame.
With runners on first and second, TK Kinkead ripped the ball up the middle to score one of the runners. Vandalia would score another run later in the inning to cut the score to 3-2.
Raymond-Lincolnwood scored five more in the fifth to go up 8-2. The Vandals were able to push across two in the seventh, but still took the loss.
Vandalia played at Effingham on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. Results were not available at press time.
Vandalia came from behind once against Rockridge, but couldn't do it a second time, as the Vandals fell 7-6 in the season opener on Friday.
"That's something positive to see when you come back once you're down," Vandalia coach Luke Hohlt said. "That's something we did not do last year at all. When we were down, we were down."
Senior Kyle Hawkins got the opening day start for Vandalia. Back-to-back hits off Hawkins to start the second inning led to the Rockets' first run. They were able to take a 4-0 lead in the third.
Cody Norris drew a walk to open the fourth, and came around to score on a single by Craig Freeman. Freeman scored two batters later on a single to right by Ryan Thiele.
Trailing 4-2, Ian Murrell came on to pitch in the top of the fourth for Vandalia. He sat down the first three batters he faced.
With two on and no out in the bottom of the fifth, TK Kinkead delivered a clutch hit over the second baseman's head that drove in two and tied the game, 4-4. Kinkead scored the go-ahead run on a double play two batters later.
Murrell, who cruised through seven batters in two innings, hit a wall in the sixth. The first three batters of the frame reached and scored, retaking the lead for the Rockets, 7-5.
The Vandals went three-up, three-down in the sixth.
In its last chance, Vandalia drew back-to-back walks to open the seventh. The Vandals were able to bring Dathan Berning in to score on a ground out, but couldn't tie the game.
Vandalia had eight hits and seven errors.
"We have got to focus all the way through," Hohlt said. "That's something we didn't do well tonight. We took our eye off the ball and missed some catches we should have made. But we'll clean it up."