TERRE HAUTE —
Three one-run rallies in 21 innings wasn’t quite enough for Wayne Newton Post 346, which saw its American Legion baseball season end with a 3-1 loss to Plover, Wis., Saturday at the Great Lakes National Regional at Bob Warn Field.
After losing 3-2 in 12 innings to Edwardsville, Ill., late Friday, the Terre Haute team got another stellar pitching performance — by Cody Brock — but sabotaged his effort by allowing two unearned runs.
“You need to score,” Terre Haute manager John Hayes said after the game. “We just couldn’t get the base hit with runners in scoring position. It’s been kind of like that all year, although certainly not for lack of effort [by the Post 346 players].”
Post 346 broke the scoreless tie in the top of the fourth inning when Preston Tofaute doubled to the right-center gap and came around on Sam Wolf’s grounder and Cody Thornton’s sacrifice line shot to center field.
A leadoff walk, a sacrifice and an error allowed Plover’s Black Sox to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, however, and they took the lead in the fifth on a hit, a sacrifice, a two-out walk and another error.
Post 346 didn’t do anything to take advantage of a leadoff walk to Tofaute in the sixth — Wolf hit a screamer, but right at the left fielder — but had a big threat in the eighth.
Zach Milam led off with his third straight single and was bunted into scoring position by Pete Lannoo. After an infield out moved Milam to third, Wolf drew a two-out walk and Thornton hit a two-hopper down the third-base line.
Thornton and first-base coach Mike Sturm agreed and television footage showed that Thornton beat the throw, but the umpire had the call that mattered.
And after that opportunity went by, Plover came up with an insurance run in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single, a delayed steal and an RBI single by Sterling King. Connor Pierce led off the ninth inning with a single, but the next three batters went down quietly.
“Our pitching in this tournament was outstanding,” Hayes said afterward. “I’m proud of each and every one of those kids [Damon Olds, Austin Hicks, Brock and reliever Lannoo].
“I don’t think some people realize how good this competition is,” the manager continued, “and we were right there with them. These kids don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
“That’s the way the game goes, I guess,” said Brock when asked about the two unearned runs. “I just go out and pitch; I did my job, and we just hit the ball right at people.”
The tournament’s final four teams are Plover, Edwardsville, Napoleon, Ohio, and Midland, Mich. Post 346 beat one of those and lost nail-biters to two others in finishing the year 38-14.
“It’s been a great season,” Brock emphasized. “Cody Thornton has been a tremendous leader for us, always doing things to pick you up. It was a tough two losses though.”
“We won our own tourney, we were second at Paducah [Ky.], we won at Moline [Ill.], we won the sectional and regional and were second in the state,” Hayes recounted, “and hopefully we can do the same thing next year [when Post 346 is again the Great Lakes National Regional host]. … the hard thing is saying good-bye [to the kids].”
Hosting duties continue for two more days, of course. Midland plays Napoleon and Plover faces Edwardsville in games at 4 and 7 p.m. today — the team winning Saturday’s last game gets the later game — and the championship game or games are at 4 p.m. Monday.
“I’d like to thank all the people responsible for helping us put this thing on,” Hayes noted. “I’ve had so many positive comments from out-of-town people, and that’s a credit to our community.”
Plover, Wis., 3, Terre Haute 1
Terre Haute (AB-R-H-RBI) — Milam 3b 4-0-3-0, Lannoo dh 3-0-0-0, Brock p 0-0-0-0, Tofaute c 3-1-1-0, Wolf 1b 3-0-0-0, Thornton rf 3-0-1-1, Pierce lf 3-0-1-0, Johnson ss 4-0-0-0, Peters 2b 4-0-0-0, Dransfield cf 4-0-1-0. Totals 31-1-7-1.
Plover (AB-R-H-RBI) — Ja.Barnes lf 3-0-0-0, Makuski rf 3-1-0-0, Mallek c 3-1-1-0, King 3b 4-0-2-1, Pieczynski 2b 4-0-1-0, Giese 1b 3-0-0-0, Nalbach ss 3-1-1-0, Slowey dh 2-0-0-0, Lee p 0-0-0-0, Schulfer p 0-0-0-0, Jo.Barnes cf 3-0-0-0. Totals 28-3-5-1.
Terre Haute 000 100 000 — 1
Plover 000 110 01x — 3
E — Tofaute, Wolf, Johnson. DP — TH 1. LOB — TH 8, Plover 5. 2B — Tofaute. SB — Thornton, Giese, Mallek. SH — Mallek, Slowey, Lannoo. SF — Thornton.
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Brock (L, 2-3) 8 5 3 1 2 6
Plover IP H R ER BB SO
Lee (W) 8 6 1 1 2 2
Schulfer (Sv) 1 1 0 0 0 1
WP — Lee. T — 1:49.
Next — Plover’s Black Sox (39-9) play in today’s final four against Edwardsville, Ill. Wayne Newton Post 346 finished 38-14.
In Saturday’s other games:
• Midland, Mich., 5, Princeton 4, 11 innings — Three outs away from reaching today’s final four, the Indiana state champions opened the bottom of the 11th with back-to-back errors to set up run-scoring singles by Michael Wright and Keegan Akin.
Massive Dillon Whitten pitched the first 10 innings for Princeton, yielding all three runs in the bottom of the third on a hit by Thomas Smith and a two-run single by Steel O’Boyle for Midland (46-6).
Princeton (26-14) scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings, then took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 11th when Whitten replaced designated hitter Lucas Lantrip — who was 1 for 3 and scored twice — and walloped a long two-out double to drive in Cory Lamey.
• Napoleon 10, Edwardsville 4 — Whether it was hangover from Friday night’s late game against Wayne Newton Post 346 or something different, the Illinois state champions were their own worst enemy in Saturday’s finale.
An Edwardsville error contributed to two runs in the bottom of the first, after Edwardsville had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning.
With the score 3-1 in Napoleon’s favor, a dropped popup with two outs set the stage for two unearned runs in the fourth for a 5-1 lead.
And after Edwardsville catcher Alex Pizzini’s two-out, two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning cut the lead to two runs, the Illinois team gave up three straight walks and a three-base throwing error to start a five-run eighth inning for the Ohio champions.
Napoleon (44-18) now plays Midland, Mich., in today’s second game, after a 4 p.m. opener between Edwardsville (34-7) and Plover, Wis. Should Napoleon lose today, it would get the bye for a three-team final on Monday. Otherwise, the Edwardsville-Plover winner would have to beat Napoleon twice on Monday to prevent the Ohio team from advancing to the World Series at Shelby, N.C.
Michael Gilliland was 3 for 5 with two RBIs for Napoleon.
Jevon Boyd was 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI to pace Edwardsville.