ALTAMONT — The first five batters walked to reach base in the third inning and all scored to put up Altamont's only five runs of the game, which was enough in its 5-4 win over St. Anthony on Wednesday.
The win clinched a share of the championship in the National Trail Conference for Altamont, alongside South Central, and the Indians will be the top seed in next week's conference tournament with the tiebreaker over South Central.
St. Anthony pitcher Alex Hoelscher pitched two scoreless innings to start the game, before a nagging neck strain got to him and he walked five consecutive batters, including a walk to Aaron Goeckner that scored Altamont's first run of the game.
“He had something wrong with his neck, but said he was working through it,” St. Anthony head coach Kenny Koenig said. “He had a few get away from him.”
Koenig replaced Hoelscher with Scott Rentfrow, who pitched the rest of the game and gave up four of the five runs in the inning.
Klaiton Wolff walked to score the second run of the game, before Jacob Miller hit an RBI single and Ryan Armstrong grounded out to the second basemen for an RBI. Brady Winn singled to score Wolff with two outs.
“I could tell (Hoelscher) didn't have it,” Altamont head coach Mike Dokey. “He wasn't as crisp with his fastball or curveball. It just wasn't there. He wasn't going to overpower you.”
Altamont only managed three more hits the rest of the way against Rentfrow, which all came in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the sixth, Trevor Cornett failed to bunt on a suicide squeeze, with one out, and then struck out to end the inning. Dokey said he was glad that mistake didn't cost his team after St. Anthony scored three runs in the fifth inning.
St. Anthony made its comeback move in the fifth inning, led by Austin Bushur. After an RBI ground rule double, Bushur advanced to third base after a run-scoring ground out by Eli Dasenbrock.
Then, Bushur and Koenig discussed a suicide squeeze against Altamont's Wolff, who had a noticeably slow delivery. Bushur had other ideas.
“He said, 'I'll probably just beat (the pitch) home,” Koenig said. “As soon as he broke, (Braden) Puckett just stepped out of the way and he had it.”
Bushur stole home for the third and final run of the inning, as Wolff struck out Puckett and forced Hoelscher into a ground out to end the inning.
Altamont brought in Garrett Ziegler in the sixth inning to try to shut down St. Anthony for the remaining two innings. He did his job, striking out two in the sixth and escaping two deep fly outs in the seventh inning.
St. Anthony falls to 3-4 with the loss this season and will be in the bottom half of the conference tournament bracket. Both teams will be off until the start of the National Trail Conference tournament on Monday.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Anthony	010 030 0	4 5 0 Altamont	005 000 X	5 5 2
WP — Wolff (3 IP, 4 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER) LP — Hoelscher (2 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 6 BB) SV — ZieglerAltamont: Borders (1-2, SB, R), J. Miller (1-3, RBI), C. Miller (1-1), Winn (2-3, RBI), Cornett (0-2, SB, R), Goeckner (0-1, 2 BB, RBI), Wolff (0-2, RBI), Armstrong (0-3, RBI)St. Anthony: Lorenz (1-3, R), Williams (2-4, 2 SB, R), Bushur (1-4, 2B, RBI, SB), Dasenbrock (1-3, RBI), Braden Puckett (0-2, BB, RBI), Gardewine (0-2, BB), Branden Puckett (0-2, RBI, BB)