It is generally believed that the Brownstown baseball team is capable of beating anybody when ace Jared Winters is on the mound.
That said, Patoka has to believe the Egyptian-Illini Conference title is their’s for the taking following Monday’s big 4-2 conference win over Winters and the Bombers at home.
In a contest moved to Patoka due to wet grounds at Brownstown, Drew Baldridge outdueled the best pitcher from a team expected to challenge the Warriors (8-2, 4-0) for the EIC title, striking out 12 while allowing just one earned run on three hits and two walks in a complete game effort.
‘Drew pitched a whale of a game,’ Patoka coach Clayton Cain Jr. said. ‘He really settled in after the first couple innings and did a good job pitching.’
Winters wasn’t too shabby himself – striking out 10 and allowing five hits in six innings – but sloppy defensive play by the Bombers proved to be the difference.
‘As far as them scoring four runs, it’s not Jared’s fault, and I don’t credit them too much,’ Brownstown coach Ken Milano said. ‘I credit the bad play of our defense.
‘Our defense needs to pick it up.’
Brownstown committed five errors behind Winters, and a passed ball led to the Warriors’ first run scoring.
Those defensive struggles helped Patoka come out ahead on a day in which it wasn’t hitting on all cylinders itself.
Cain wasn’t too enamored with his team’s bunting, baserunning and ability to pick up signals from him in the third-base coach’s box.
‘I think we actually got out-played and still won,’ Cain said. ‘I think (Brownstown) won every little battle, except for on the scoreboard.
‘But that’s what I told them – good teams find a way to win. That’s what we did today. … It seemed like we capitalized on their mistakes.’
Three of Brownstown’s errors came in the third inning alone, allowing Patoka to take a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.
Dylan Adams then pushed in what would prove to be the game-winning run in the fourth with an RBI single. Adam’s two-strike hit scored Derek Back, who led off the inning with a ground-rule double.
Patoka added an insurance run in the fourth on a two-base error.
Baldridge started off a bit shaky for the Warriors, surrendering a Michael Kramer single and an RBI double to Winters in the first.
But he wound up escaping serious damage by stranding the bases loaded, and he allowed just one more hit the rest of the way.
‘Today, tip your hat to their pitcher,’ Milano said. ‘He threw a good game.’
Baldridge retired eight in a row at one point, and teammate Nick Beard capped his complete-game gem by snagging a liner off the bat of Carl Sefton in the seventh and doubling a runner off second base.
Beard also had a nice game at the plate, singling twice, stealing two bases and scoring two runs. Back also had two hits, and John Spicer added a double and a stolen base.
Levi Tackett added a double for Brownstown, while Cody Robbins had an RBI groundout in the sixth.
The Bombers (3-3, 1-1) will need to bounce back quickly, as they have five games scheduled over the next seven days.
‘It didn’t seem like we were quite all there today,’ Milano said. ‘Whether it was the weather – kinda of cold and muddy – or that we were here instead of home, something was kind of off.’
Patoka 18, St. Elmo 1
Tyler Payne led a 15-hit attack by going 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs, as Patoka rolled to an EIC victory.
Starting pitcher Luke Murfin helped his own cause by going 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs, and the junior lefty allowed just one earned run on one hit in five innings. Murfin fanned eight and walked three.
Cody Wimberly added two hits and three RBIs for Patoka, while Dylan Adams and Zach Thompson were each 2-for-4. Nick Beard and John Spicer added RBI doubles.
Johnny Calhoun had St. Elmo’s only hit.
Last Tuesday’s Game
Mulberry Grove 1
Wimberly continued his early-season rampage by going 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs, helping the Warriors cruise to an EIC win.
Luke Murfin added three hits and an RBI in five at-bats, while Drew Baldridge and Spicer had two hits apiece.
Baldridge picked up the win, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out seven in four innings of work.
Mitchell Lewis, Jacob Tompkins and Jake Rickman each went 1-for-3 for the Aces.
Tackett tripled twice and drove two runs, as the Bombers’ offense exploded for a season-high 15 runs on the strength of 10 hits and 11 walks.
Robbins added two hits, including a double and two RBIs, while freshmen Brady McDowell and Colten Hunter drove in four and three runs, respectively.
Sefton chipped in a triple, and Kramer had an RBI single and four stolen bases.
That was more than enough offensive support for Winters, who gave up five hits and struck out 10 in five innings.
Last Tuesday’s Game
Windsor 5, Brownstown 4
The Bombers suffered their second one-run loss of the season, as the host Blue Devils rallied from a 4-3 deficit with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Tackett was 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Brownstown, while Robbins was 2-for-3 with a double. Winters took the loss in relief of Kramer, who worked the first six innings before being lifted in the seventh after the first two Windsor batters reached.