If Wayne Newton Post 346 manager Tim Hayes was asked to jot down the perfect way for his team to kick off the Great Lakes Regional at Eastern Illinois University’s Coaches Field at Monier Field Wednesday night, it very well may have gone just as planned.
• Get any early lead? Check.
• Strong pitching performance? Check.
• Tack on insurance runs throughout the game? Check.
• Put the 10-run rule into effect? Check.
• Have every player healthy for Thursday’s winner’s bracket game? Check.
Hayes was able to put checks in all of his boxes with the way his team came to play against hosts Charleston Post 93.
Terre Haute put a five-spot on the board before many of those making the hour-long trek across the state line were seated. Hayes turned it over to starting pitcher Evan Newman, who did the rest, as Post 346 defeated Charleston 12-1 in six innings to move into the winner’s bracket of the Regional.
“It would’ve been pretty close to [a perfect game],” said Hayes of his team’s performance. “It puts you in a great position.”
On one of the biggest stages in American Legion baseball, there certainly could be nerves going into the game.
Getting an early cushion can put those at ease, and Post 346 successfully discovered that in the top half of the first inning.
Back-to-back walks got the frame started before Adam Craig launched a two-run double off the left field fence.
Craig came around to score two pitches later when Tristan Elder whacked an RBI double into right-center field, putting the visitors on top 3-0 four batters into the evening.
They tacked on two more on Dillon Kinnett’s RBI fielder’s choice and Cade Moore’s RBI single to go on top 5-0 and gave Newman plenty of runs to work with.
“It really was huge,” said Hayes of getting on top early. “I was hoping to get some [extra base hits] tonight, and they came in bunches.”
He gladly took them and never let Post 93 back into the game.
Newman was locked in from the start, setting Charleston down in order in the first on nine pitches.
The lone frame that kept him from finishing what he started came in the second, where all sorts of craziness ensued.
After back-to-back singles and an error plated an unearned run, Charleston shortstop Jacob Wilson laced a one-hopper to third baseman Brayton Reed. Reed backhanded the ball smoothly, confusing the third base umpire, who threw up his fist, signaling that he caught it in the air.
Reed then threw on to second to double up the base runner, who was caught in between second and third. However, the play did not stand, as the umpires came together and decided the ball hit the grass first before touching leather.
They put the runners at first and second, which quickly became a bases loaded and no outs situation after another Post 346 error.
Newman didn’t bat an eye, though, and got out of the jam unscathed. He went on to throw 4 ⅔ innings of one unearned run baseball in which he walked none and struck out one.
“He just kept pitching,” Hayes said of Newman’s ability to get out of the second-inning jam. “He pitched really well.”
The offense continued to put the ball in play and seemingly found holes throughout the evening, adding two runs in the third, one in the fourth and four more in the sixth.
Eight batters recorded at least one hit, while three players had extra base hits, something that Post 346 had not accomplished in its last three games. Among those with one of those was Kinnett, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and five RBIs in the win.
“What a great seven-hole hitter,” Hayes said of Kinnett. “Dillon’s been out most of the year with a bad arm, but man, he’s got good bat speed and foot speed. It’s just nice to have him back in the lineup.”
With the victory, Post 346 advances to Friday’s winner’s bracket game against Beverly-Lowell, Ohio. Hayes confirmed Brayton Reed will start the game on the mound.
WAYNE NEWTON POST 346 (AB-R-H-RBI) — Loyed lf 3-1-0-0, Whitlock rf 2-2-1-0, Craig cf 3-2-2-2, Elder 1b 3-3-2-1, Brown dh 4-0-0-0, Reed 3b 3-2-2-0, Kinnett 2b 4-2-2-5, Moore ss 3-0-2-3, Barnes c 4-0-1-0. Totals 25-12-12-11.
CHARLESTON POST 93 (AB-R-H-RBI) — Herrington 2b 3-0-0-0, Finley lf 2-0-1-0, L.Harrell 3b 3-0-0-0, Brady cf 3-1-1-0, Hill c 3-0-1-0, Wilson ss 2-0-0-0, Coartney 1b 1-0-0-0, Dow rf 1-0-0-0, Dillon p 1-0-0-0, W.Harrell dh 1-0-0-0, Simpson p-rf 1-0-0-0. Totals 21-1-3-0.
E — Loyed, Reed, Barnes, Dow. LOB — TH 6, Ch 5. 2B — Craig, Elder, Kinnett 2, Finley. SB — Loyed, Whitlock 2, Craig, Kinnett, Finley. CS — Whitlock.
Ev. Newman (W)=4 2/3=3=1=0=0=1
Et. Newman=1 1/3=0=0=0=1=2
Simpson (L)=2 1/3=6=7=7=3=2
HBP — Elder (by Simpson). PB — Hill. WP — Dillon 2.
Next — Wayne Newton Post 346 (27-8) takes on Bevery-Lowell, Ohio Thursday at 6 pm EDT. Charleston Post 93 (13-12) takes on Gladwin County, Mich. earlier in the day.