Aaron Dye found his groove — he can thank Luke Collings for that.
The first baseman for Post 88’s 1 team threw out Josh Overbeck in the first inning to keep a 0-0 tie in the top of the first inning to calm some nerves for the pitcher who threw a complete game in Mattoon’s 7-1 win over Shelby County Posts 289/611/725 at Grimes Field in the 7th Annual Firecracker Classic.
“It helps a lot,” said Dye. “We have played since we were young. I can always trust on him making the play.”
The win improved Mattoon to 3-1 in the tournament, 6-8 overall on the season, which means Mattoon will be the #2 seed and will play the #3 seed Newburgh, Indiana, who also finished 3-1, at 3:30 at Lake Land College.
Moultrie Douglas will be the #1 seed, who was 4-0, and will play the #4 seed Danville #2, who was 3-0, at 3:30 at MHS Field. The winners of both games will play in the championship at 8:00 at Grimes Field.
“Moving on is big for us,” said coach Ryan Hahn. “You want to compete in your own tournament. You don’t want to see Danville send two teams and sit back and watch. There was a rough patch, but we have turned it around. Some have taken on leadership roles, and we are hitting.”
Two runs in the first inning was enough for Mattoon. Landon Crary and Tucker Rappe hit back-to-back singles and were driven home with a two run double from Elijah Schlabach.
Schlabach had another great day in the tournament with his 2-for-3 evening, including a hustling, gusty run at the plate on a wild pitch.
Even after Schlabach’s score, Post 88 piled four more runs.
Trey Skocy delivered with a big insurance hit, a two run single in the same inning to score Collings and and Hayden Phillips who reached on singles. Payton Morrow added a RBI double and Rayme Hamilton delivered a RBI single in the five run fifth inning.
Nic Hutchinson’s day was limited to 4 1-3 innings pitched, allowing five runs, and four walks as Mattoon finished with 10 hits as a team.
“Mattoon is always a good hitting team,” said Shelby County coach Jim Hutchinson. “They put a lot of work in the off-season that we can’t do due to difference of facilities. I know most of those kids. They are a good group of kids and some good ball players.”
On the flip side, Mattoon’s Dye was executing flawless.
After escaping the first inning with no damage, Dye’s lone mistake came in the fifth inning when he allowed one run that also scored with the help of a Mattoon error. Jordan Hoedebecke reached on a single, stole second, moved to third on a fielders choice, and scored on an error.
Before that, Dye retired 11 straight batters at one point, and was credited with the win in six innings of work, allowing three hits, and issuing no walks.
Shelby County bows out of the tournament with a 1-3 record, falling to 6-7 overall on the season.
In the earlier contest, Shelby County defeated Danville 6-1. Josh Overbeck threw seven innings, 102 pitches, and struck out six. Zach Monroe led the team at the plate with two hits and two runs driven in, but the team hit as well. Eight players recorded at least one hit.
Shelby County Posts 289/611/725 000 010 1 3
Mattoon Post 88 1 200 05X 7 10
WP - Dye (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) LP - Hutchinson (4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2 K)
Shelby County: Overbeck (1B); Monroe (1B); Hoedebecke (1B)
Mattoon 1: Hamilton (1B, RBI); Crary (1B); Rappe (1B); Schlabach (1B, 2B, 2 RBI); Collings (1B); Phillips (2 1B); Skocy (1B, 2 RBI); Morrow (2B, RBI)