Teutopolis Post 924 picked a good time to wake the bats up, down 2-0 entering the seventh, but picked a bad time to let undefeated Mattoon Post 88 back in the game.
Thanks to three Mattoon errors and timely hitting by Tyler Westendorf and Andy Borries, the Teutopolis seniors headed to the bottom of the seventh up 5-2 at the Mattoon Firecracker tournament.
Four batters into the inning, the Teutopolis lead had shrunk to 5-4 with the tying run on second and the winning run on first with no outs.
But Borries buckled down on the mound, striking out Ryan Hutchinson, getting Tanner Scott to fly out to second that advanced a runner to third, and cleanly fielded a surprise bunt attempt by Clayton Tucker and threw him out at first to end the game.
The win put Teutopolis at 1-0 in the tournament and dealt 12-1 Mattoon its first loss of the season — in heart-pounding fashion on both sides.
“That’s something Andy’s very competitive about,” said Teutopolis Randy Mette. “He runs into some tough luck there, one that went off the glove, a passed ball. He fights through it, he buckles down. He’s a graduating senior, and that experience is carrying through.”
Mattoon made its mark early, as Payton Hartbank walked, advanced on a passed ball, stole third and scored on a Scott RBI single to go up 1-0 in the first. They’d strike again in the third after Carter Price reached on a dropped third strike and came around to score three batters later on a Scott sacrifice fly — all without a hit in the inning.
A lack of hits was something Teutopolis was dealing with for nearly five innings, until Westendorf singled with two outs in the fifth to break up Austin Warrem’s no-hitter.
Teutopolis had two baserunners reach in the sixth to no avail, and things looked bleak early.
In the seventh, Brock Mette led off with a sharp single to right, and took second easily after Hartbank attempted to throw him out from right field at first. He’d score when Devin Smith hit a grounder to third that was booted by Hutchinson.
Smith took second on the play, then Jordan Thoele walked. Tommy Flach bunted one into the air with no out, but a diving Hutchinson couldn’t make the play for the third error of the inning and loaded up the bases.
Westendorf immediately cleared them with a double to left-center to put Teutopolis up 4-2 in the blink of an eye. After a shallow flyout by John Kreke and a strikeout by Matt Koester, Borries came through with a triple to right field that would prove to be the game-winning run.
“That was a big hit by Tyler tonight,” Randy Mette said. “I can’t give the boys enough credit, the way they put the bat on the ball later in the game. They kept battling, that’s the way these kids like to play, and Tyler did a heck of a job.”
Borries, headed to Kaskakia College in the fall, went the distance on the mound, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits, walking two and striking out 11.
Westendorf led the charge offensively, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs off EIU-bound Warrem, while Mette was 1-for-3 and Borries was 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk.
It was a big win for Post 924, which only suited up nine players Wednesday night, to begin the Firecracker. They play Olney Post 30 and Robinson Post 69 today at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. at Grimes Field and Lake Land College, respectively.
“It’s been a challenge,” Randy Mette said. “They all want to play as much as they can, but we’ve had a tough time getting enough kids to each game. Of all the starters we had out there, I think six of the nine, this year, were sophomores in high school. They just want to play ball and battle hard.”
Teutopolis Post 924 000 000 5 5 4 3
Mattoon Post 88 101 000 2 4 5 3
WP - Borries (7 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 11 K, 2 BB) LP - Warrem (7 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB)
Teutopolis: Mette (1-3, R); Smith (0-3, R); Thoele (0-2, R, BB); Flach (0-3, R); Westendorf (2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, R); Borries (1-2, 3B, RBI, BB)
Mattoon: Price (1-4, RBI, R); Hartbank (2-3, RBI, R, BB, SB); Hutchinson (0-4, SB); Scott (1-3, 2 RBI); Lilly (0-2, BB); Dawson (1-3, R); Godden (0-1, R)