TERRE HAUTE —
There is no substitute for experience, and two of the most experienced players on Terre Haute Wayne Newton Post 346 came through Sunday afternoon with the American Legion baseball regional championship on the line.
Cody Thornton led off the 10th inning with double and scored the winning run from third base when T.J. Decker hit a hard bouncer that the shortstop misplayed, giving Wayne Newton a 10-9 victory over Floyds Knobs.
The victory sends Wayne Newton (34-10) into the state championship tournament for the fourth year in a row. The tourney starts Thursday at St. Leon (East Central High School).
“We’re the oldest ones on the team and we got to step up in big moments like this. It’s part of our job being leaders on the team,” Thornton said.
Decker, who started the game at second base, shut out Floyd Knobs (26-8) over the final four innings to earn his second win of the regional tourney.
“I love pressure. It just feels like it fuels my fire, and I’m glad we got the win today,” Decker said.
With the score tied 9-9, Thornton led off the 10th inning with a double down the left-field line.
“That was huge. That got us going. We knew we were sitting in the driver’s seat,” Decker said of Thornton’s hit.
Connor Pierce was hit by a pitch, and one out later Jacob Johnson walked to load the bases for Decker. The infield was playing in and Thornton was running on contact. He scored as the ball bounced off the shortstop’s glove.
“I was confident in the guys that we would get the runners moved and be where we needed to be, and sure enough Decker put the ball in play; when you put the ball in play, good things happen,” Thornton said.
“One out, I was just trying to get it over the infield’s head or even a [sacrifice fly]. I’m just glad I hit it hard and made them make a tough play, and luckily he bobbled it and we get the win,” Decker said.
Floyds Knobs used everything it had to come from behind and take the lead.
Wayne Newton scored six runs on five hits in the fourth inning to take a 7-2 lead.
Thornton, Pierce and Cody Brock came through with consecutive hits in the six-run fourth inning. A hit batter, a walk, a sacrifice bunt by Jacob Johnson and another single by Zach Milam accounted for the big inning.
Floyds Knobs countered with a seven-run sixth inning, taking a 9-7 lead when Cody Reister hit a three-run home run to right field.
“We got up early, put it in coast and you can’t coast against a team like [Floyds Knobs],” Wayne Newton manager John Hayes said. “They took the lead, and we were able come back and get some runs. But our kids played hard, they competed and that’s all you can ask for. We beat a quality ball club. That is a good baseball team.”
The plan was to use Decker as a closer, hoping to get more innings out of starter Austin Hicks and reliever Pete Lannoo.
“We had to bring [Decker] in a little quicker than we wanted to because we got down two and we couldn’t afford to give up any more [runs]. We just felt like he was our best option to keep things close, and he did one heck of a job. And not only that, but [he] comes through there at the end [with a hit] that the [shortstop] couldn’t handle, and we win the game,” Hayes said.
Lannoo, Thornton, Pierce, Brock and Johnson each had two hits in the game for Wayne Newton. Pierce had a triple and Brock and Thornton a double each.
Terre Haute Post 346 10, Floyds Knobs 9
Floyds Knobs (AB-R-H-RBI) — Wenning 2b 6-2-2-1, DeSpain cf 6-1-1-1, Book ss 6-2-3-2, Snodgrass 3b 5-1-2-0, Kissell c,rf,p 5-0-2-0, Beach 1b 1-0-0-0, Ruddle p 1-0-0-0, Reister ph, p 2-1-1-3, Jones c 0-0-0-0, Cockerham p, 1b 4-1-1-0, R.Jones rf, cf 5-2-3-0, Sunderhaas lf, p, rf 3-0-1-2. Totals 42-9-16-9.
Terre Haute (AB-R-H-RBI) — Milam 3b 3-1-1-2, Lannoo dh-p 2-1-2-0, Peters 2b 3-1-1-0, Tofaute c 3-1-1-2, Wolf 1b 5-0-0-0, Thornton cf 6-2-2-0, Pierce lf 4-1-2-1, Brock rf 4-1-2-1, Johnson ss 4-0-2-0, Decker 2b-p 2-2-1-0. Totals 36-10-14-6.
Floyds Knobs 001 107 000 0 — 9
Terre Haute 001 600 020 1 — 10
E — Book 3, Decker 2, Thornton. DP — FK 1, TH 1. LOB — FK 9, TH 16. 2B – DeSpain, Brock, Thornton. 3B — Pierce. HR — Reister. SB — R.Jones, Sunderhaas, Thornton, Decker. CS — R. Jones. SH — Milam, Lannoo, Tofaute, Johnson. SF — Tofaute.
Floyds Knobs IP H R ER BB SO
Cockerham 3 1/3 7 7 5 3 2
Ruddle 3 2/3 5 2 2 3 1
Reister 1 1/3 0 0 0 2 1
Sunderhaas 2/3 0 0 0 0 1
Kissell (L) 1 1 1 0 1 0
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Hicks 5 1/3 11 7 2 0 4
Lannoo 2/3 2 2 2 0 1
Decker (W) 4 3 0 0 0 5
WP — Cockerham, Ruddle. HBP — by Hicks (Beach), by Hicks (Cockerham), by Cockerham (Decker), by Ruddle (Wolf), by Reister (Pierce).
Next — Wayne Newton Post 346 (34-10) will play in the American Legion state finals beginning Thursday at St. Leon. Floyds Knobs finished the season 26-8.