SETH WHITEHEAD For the Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — VANDALIA — Jacob Behrends didn't have too much to say about his performance on Thursday in the Egyptian-Illini Conference Tournament championship. And he didn't need to say much.
His 22 strikeouts pretty much did the talking.
The Brownstown/St. Elmo senior recorded every single out against Patoka via the strikeout, including four in one inning and 11 straight to close out the second-seeded Bombers 3-0 win over the top-seeded Warriors.
"I don't even know what you say about that," Bombers coach Ryan Beccue said. "You definitely know when Jake's pitching it's going to give us a great chance to win. When he throws the ball the way he's capable of, we feel great about our chances. The 22 strikeouts is just above and beyond what you'd ever expect."
In just its first year of existence, Behrends established a Brownstown/St. Elmo co-op record that will likely never be broken. And he also easily broke both schools' previous single-game K records. St. Elmo's record was 19 strikeouts, while Brownstown's is believed to be 19.
"He blew that thing out of the water," Beccue said of the St. Elmo record. "I didn't think (19) would be touched."
Patoka (9-4) came up with two clean singles off Behrends, but those were the only two fair balls they managed off the big righty. Behrends worked at a furious pace and he pumped in strike after strike, recording several of his Ks on three pitches while walking just one on the night.
"He always works fast," Beccue said. "That's usually how he works. But there was a little extra zip on it tonight. Everything was working. And once you get into a rhythm like he did in the first couple innings, there's no need to slow it down."
Behrends served notice that a pitcher's duel was in the works early, fanning the side in the bottom of the first after Patoka ace Johnnie Clift pitched out of a jam in the top of the frame.
He served notice that a special night was in store in the second, recording four strikeouts, including a pair looking to get out of a first-and-third jam following a single, stolen base and a Patoka batter reaching after a third strike skipped away from catcher Dustin Lawson.
Behrends reached double digits in the strikeout department by the third inning, and the Bombers finally broke through against Clift in the sixth.
Dalton Parks got things going with a one-out single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Behrends then sent a check-swing grounder to Patoka shortstop Shane Cain, and Cain's throw to first was in the dirt, skipping away from Ryan Miller, allowing Parks to score from second.
Landon Feezel followed with an RBI single to score Behrends from second. The Bombers (8-7) added an insurance run in the seventh on a suicide squeeze bunt by Parks to score Levi Maxey from third.
Clift wound up with 12 strikeouts of his own and allowed just five hits. But the Bombers had much more success against the Warriors ace than they did in their previous meeting with the righty, as he shut them out on just three hits during the regular season.
"The guys came in with a lot of confidence that they would get something done today," Beccue said. "It's all them.
"We've had some issues getting some timely hits. We've been working hard at hitting the baseball and cutting down on our strikeouts and putting good swings on pitches. Guys are still working at it. They haven't hung their heads this year."
Behrends showed Patoka no mercy once he got the lead, striking out the side with ease in the sixth and the seventh, as he only seemed to get stronger.
"He was something else tonight," Patoka coach Joey Eddy said. "We've hit him in the past, but I've never seen him throw like that. He was composed. And he thrower harder. I bet he was throwing eight, 10 miles per hour faster than he did last year."
Lawson agreed that Behrends was throwing harder than he normally does. And he was going to his fastball more frequently than usual.
"One thing I did notice is he threw more fastballs," Lawson said. "He didn't throw as many curveballs as he usually does. He was throwing hard and hitting his corners. He was hitting his spots."
BSE 000 002 1 3 5 0
Patoka 000 000 0 0 2 3
WP — Behrends (7IP, 2H, 1BB, 22K). LP — Clift (7IP, 5H, 2ER, 12K, 3BB, 1HBP).
BSE —L.Maxey (1-3, R); Flowers (Sac); Parks (2-4, RBI, R); Feezel (1-3, RBI); Behrends (R); Austin (1-2, SB); Hall (1-2)
Patoka — Houston (1-3); Miller (1-2)