TERRE HAUTE —
T.J. Decker surprised even himself Thursday night, pitching a perfect game for Terre Haute Wayne Newton Post 346 in the opener of the American Legion baseball sectional at Terre Haute North High School.
Decker retired 21 straight Sullivan Post 139 batters and Wayne Newton hammered out a 12-0 seven-inning, 10-run rule victory at North’s Don Jennings Field.
The victory keeps Post 346 in the winners’ bracket of the double-elimination tournament. Play resumes at 7 p.m. today with Clinton playing Washington in Game 2. Post 346 plays the winner of Game 2 at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Sullivan against the loser of Game 2 at 3:30 p.m.
Decker struck out only four and did not walk a batter.
“I could not believe that. I’m glad my defense came to play today. It was all them. They made every play when I needed it,” Decker said.
Post 346 played error-free baseball, fielding 11 groundballs and six flyballs.
“That’s a classic right there. You don’t have to strike everybody out. You do have to get ahead. Let those other guys play. That’s what they’re out there,” Terre Haute manager John Hayes said.
The loss dropped Sullivan to 9-16-1.
“It was a buzzsaw, to say the least. He threw a masterpiece,” Sullivan manager Craig Klitz said.
While fans, teammates and batters were melting in the heat, Decker was thriving. He was throwing as hard in the seventh inning as he was in the first.
“I love pitching in the heat. I just feel like I throw a little bit harder in the heat. Jumping on [Sullivan] for eight runs in the first inning helped me a lot too,” Decker said.
Post 346 sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning and scored eight runs on four hits and three Sullivan errors. Sullivan made four errors in the game.
Post 346 added two in the second and two runs in the sixth inning to end the scheduled nine-inning game in seven.
Jacob Johnson led Post 346’s nine-hit night with two singles and four runs batted in. Zach Milam added two hits — one a double — and two RBIs, Cody Thornton contributed two singles and Preston Tofaute had two hits, including a triple.
Wayne Newton Post 346 12, Sullivan Post 139 0
SULLIVAN (AB-R-H-RBI) — Garner cf-ss 3-0-0-0, Dowell lf 3-0-0-0, Fulford rf-cf 3-0-0-0, Yeryar ss-c-p 1-0-0-0, Collins ss-c 1-0-0-0, Hauger 1b 2-0-0-0, Bedwell dh 2-0-0-0, Kuppler 2b 2-0-0-0, McNeely c-lf 2-0-0-0, Kinnett 3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 21-0-0-0.
WAYNE NEWTON (AB-R-H-RBI) — Milam 3b 3-2-2-2, Lannoo dh 4-1-0-0, Brock rf 4-0-0-0, Wolf 1b 4-1-1-0, Thornton cf 3-3-2-1, Tofaute c 3-3-2-1, Johnson ss 4-1-2-4, Pierce lf 2-1-0-0, Peters 2b 3-0-0-0. Totals 30-12-9-9.
Sullivan Post 139 000 000 0 — 0
Wayne Newton Post 346 820 002 x — 12
E — Fulford 2, Hauger, Kuppler. LOB — Post 139 0, Post 346 2. 2B — Milam. 3B — Tofaute.
IP H R ER BB SO
Butler (L) 4 7 10 2 3 6
Yeryar 2 2 2 2 2 2
IP H R ER BB SO
Decker (W, 6-1) 7 0 0 0 0 4
Bk — Butler.
Next — Post 346 will play the Clinton-Washington winner at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Sullivan against the Clinton-Washington loser at 3:30.