By BRADEN LAYER Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — LOUISVILLE -- Dieterich’s defense was nearly flawless in Wednesday’s North Clay Regional semifinal. Starting pitcher Alex Bohnhoff surrendered just two hits, struck out three, and allowed zero earned runs.
But the Movin’ Maroons made one mistake in the sixth inning, with two outs, and it proved deadly. Still scoreless, Bohnhoff threw a low strike that fooled the Pirates’ Seth Clark, but the ball took a funny bounce and escaped catcher Trenton Poe. Clark took off for first, and a slightly errant throw from Poe escaped Brandon Westjohn on the bag.
One tiny error, on a dropped strike, and two Cumberland runners scored to break the pitchers’ duel and give the Pirates a 2-0 edge. Blayke Cutts, the ace of the day for Cumberland, kept the shutout alive in the seventh to preserve the 2-0 win.
“Baseball is a funny game,” Pirates coach Jim Miller said. “It’s crazy, this (game) has been like our season, it comes down to one or two plays like that, we either sink or swim.”
Dieterich had chances to score in the third, fourth and fifth, but on cue, Cumberland turned in a gem of a play on defense to keep the Maroons off the board.
With two runners on in the third, Tanner Traub ripped into a pitch that looked bound to touch down in the outfield for a two-RBI double, but Cumberland center fielder Cody Hornbeck extended nearly parallel to the ground for a diving save.
“If that ball drops we score two,” Dieterich coach Jamie VanScyoc said.
The Maroons again came up empty in the fourth, when Cumberland turned a 6-4-3 double play off a ground ball from Cole Hartke to escape the inning.
“They were the difference,” Miller said of his defense. “I’ve been telling them all season long that pitching and defense will win you ball games, they came through today.”
One frame later, Cumberland turned toward its defense once more. Traub connected on another long ball to center with one out, but Hornbeck caught the ball and started a flawless relay to pick off Alex Bohnhoff who was tagging from second.
Three innings with runners in scoring position, yet the Maroons couldn’t bring home the crucial first run.
“It was a perfect tagup, you know,” VanScyoc said. “It was just a perfect relay.”
Cutts delivered a sterling performance in his first postseason appearance as a freshman, allowing three hits. The Cumberland starter also struck out four.
“Blayke, being a freshman, he went out and threw strikes today,” Miller said. “Thats what we talked about all year.”
Cumberland improved to 7-15 on the year, and the Pirates take on the host Cardinals in the North Clay regional final on Saturday.
“We’ve been practicing for these moments,” Miller said. “I told the kids we’re in a game for a regional championship, and they got real excited.”
Dieterich’s season came to an untimely end with the loss.
Cumberland 000 002 0 2 2 2
Dieterich 000 000 0 0 3 1
WP - Cutts LP - A. Bohnhoff
Cumberland: Poe (1B); Elwood (1B).
Dieterich: Lidy (1B); Hartke (2B); J. Bohnhoff (1B).