WINDSOR — Dieterich’s Tanner Traub nearly pitched a mistake-free game, but consecutive walks with two outs in the sixth inning proved costly against Windsor/Stew-Stras on Monday.
The Blue Devils’ Alex Allen and Brandon Helmuth walked and Allen later came around to score on a double steal play that caught Traub in no man’s land, while the Blue Devils won 1-0 to advance to the next round of the National Trail Conference tournament.
Against Helmuth, Dieterich catcher Cole Hartke fumbled with a pitch in the dirt, allowing Allen to take second base after the walk.
Helmuth walked and Allen took third base on a passed ball, giving Derek Moschenrose a chance to drive in the team’s first run of the game; however, he was one of the many players who were hitless against Traub.
Traub pitched six innings, struck out 11 batters – including Moschenrose once – and only walked two, so Windsor/Stew-Stras head coach Mike Taylor said his team had to figure out a way to score a run.
During Moschenrose’s at-bat, Helmuth jumped off first base, looking to steal second, and Traub recognized the movement before throwing the pitch.
“We addressed that – what to do if he steals,” Dieterich head coach Jamie VanScyoc said. “What Mike (Taylor) did was try to force a balk.”
A balk would’ve allowed Allen to score, walking to home plate, but VanSyoc said Traub handled the play correctly; however, Traub was still caught in the middle of a decision.
Taylor said his team has practiced that play on the defensive end in practice and said there’s a strategy to how to do the right things in Traub’s situation.
“With two outs, get the out as quick as we can to get the runner at second,” Taylor said. “Either that or take your chance and let him have the base, and take your chance on a hit scoring two.”
Traub initially took a few steps off of the mound looking to throw out Helmuth, who had settled into a spot in between first and second.
“He has to turn and make a throw,” VanSyoc said. “Our catcher has to get into a position where he can block the plate. We just didn’t execute in that moment and it cost us.”
Traub hesitated to throw to second base as Allen stepped further down the third base line. Then, as Allen broke for the plate, Traub turned a threw home.
“I thought once the pitcher left the mound and turned his back to our runner at third that we were going to score on that one,” Taylor said. “It was a little closer to the plate than what I thought.”
On Traub’s throw, Hartke slid into position to try to make the tag; however, Allen was too quick and beat out the throw by a few seconds.
“Alex is a good base runner,” Taylor said. “He got a good jump and read it well, and if he hesitates then he gets thrown out and we’re still playing.”
VanSyoc said Hartke could’ve been late on the tag because of where the throw was at, but said he didn’t have a clear vision of the play from where he was.
Hayden Cole popped out to end the inning, stranding Helmuth and Moschenrose on base, but the Blue Devils’ Mark Jones worked through the seventh inning with three quick outs to give his team the win.
Jones pitched a complete game and gave up five hits, approaching the hitters in a different way than Traub. Jones only had two strikeouts in the game – one was in the seventh inning.
“He’s going to hit his spots and get a lot of weak ground balls and fly balls,” Taylor said. “Teams get frustrated because they think they should be hitting him all over the place, but he’s done it against everybody he’s faced this year.”
The win advances the third-seeded Blue Devils to the second round on Wednesday when they’ll play South Central at 4 p.m. in Kinmundy.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dieterich 000 000 0 0 3 1
Windsor/Stew-Stras 000 001 X 1 1 2
WP — Jones (7 IP, 5 H, 2 K, 0 R, 0 ER), LP — Traub (6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)
Dieterich: A. Bohnhoff (1-3), J. Bohnhoff (1-3), Traub (1-3) Thoele (1-3), Shoemaker (1-2)
Windsor/Stew-Stras: Allen (0-2, BB, R), Bugger (1-2, 2B), Helmuth (0-2, BB)