MARION — It took five innings for the Windsor/Stew-Stras bats to wake up against Wolf Lake Shawnee ace Adam Pennington. Down 4-0, the Blue Devils finally started to put solid contact on the ball in the sixth, but found themselves in a 4-0 hole going into the seventh. Despite a spirited effort in the seventh and maybe a little sweat on Pennington's forehead, their rally fell short as Shawnee downed the first-year co-op 4-2 and ended the Blue Devils' season. Shawnee got all four runs in the third inning off starter Aaron White through a couple bad bounces, and coach Rodney Monbrum was steadfast in his description of the game. "I don't think the better baseball team won today," he said. "It's baseball, you get one game. We had chances. If we go nine innings, I think we've got them."It was a great pitching matchup from the outset, with Pennington sporting a miniscule 0.23 ERA, and White countering with a 1.10 ERA of his own. Pennington gave up a leadoff single to Alex Allen to open the game, and Ian Stremming reached second after a leadoff walk in the third, but the Blue Devils couln't put a rally together off Pennington early.The wheels came off in the third, if only temporarily. Ryan Ochoa led off for the Redskins with a walk. Justin Goodman hit a high chopper to third baseman Hayden Cole, who threw Goodman out, but Ochoa advanced to third thanks to the high bounce. Michael Crane got the Redskins on the board with an RBI single past a diving Christian Vonderheide, and he came around to score when a Bradon Pind fly ball fell in in front of Allen in center. Allen tried to play the ball low, but the ball hopped off the field turf and over his head, allowing Pind to motor all the way around for an inside-the-park home run. Austin Treece reached on an error by Cole, and came around to score on a Gavyn Ellet triple to right. From there, the Blue Devils were in a hole. "That turf's going to make a play, got caught in between, it's not (Allen's) fault, he didn't cost us the game. Allen singled in the fifth and advanced to third on an error in left, but Vonderheide struck out to end the inning. Gunner Theis led off the sixth with a double, but courtesy runner Mark Jones was picked off by catcher Aiden McMahan. Justin FUlk and Trey Leasher singled with two outs, but pinch hitter Jacob Kramer struck out to end the inning again. In the seventh, Brandon Helmuth reached on a single up the middle, and Allen brought him home with a triple. Windsor cut the lead to two with a Vonderheide sacrifice fly. Theis couldn't keep the rally alive, popping out to end the game and the season. Pennington struck out 11, but surrended seven hits and three walks. White gave up three earned runs on three hits and one walk in five, and reliever Ben Helton gave up two hits in a scoreless sixth. For the game, Windsor/Stew-Stras had more hits, less errors and more walks, but less in the category that decides the game: runs. "He's good, but he's not Derek Thompson, he's not the T-Town guy, he's hittable," Monbrum said. "That one's going to hurt for a while. I'm going to talk for hours on the way home to everybody and tell them the better baseball team didn't win."Allen went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, Theis was 1-for-3 with a double, and Ian Stremming went 0-for-1 with one walk. Monbrum liked the offensive approach, but not the ultimate result."We had the right guys up, we couldn't come through," he said. "The bottom of the order rolled it over there, we got back to our big dogs, right where we wanted to be at the end of the game."The Blue Devils' season ends at 25-6 in their first season of co-op baseball.
W/SS 000 000 2 2 7 1Shawnee 004 000 X 4 5 3WP - Pennington LP - White
W/SS: Allen (3-4, 3B, RBI, R); Vonderheide (0-3, RBI, SF); Theis (1-3, 2B, BB); Fulk (1-3); Leasher (1-3): Stremming (0-1, 2 BB); Helmuth (1-2, R)Shawnee: Pind (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R); Ellet (2-3, 3B, RBI,); Crane (1-2, RBI, R)