Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

May 4, 2012

Hearts and Shoes split

TEUTOPOLIS —  Brady Walker accomplished something no one else has this spring when he launched a three-run home run over the left field fence Thursday at Teutopolis.

    The Effingham senior’s third-inning homer scored just the first, second and third earned runs T-Town pitcher Mark Niebrugge had allowed this season. The Hearts added another run in the fourth, held off a Wooden Shoes’ rally in the seventh and beat their county rivals 4-2 in the back end of Thursday’s doubleheader.

    “The home run was definitely a big change in the game,” Effingham coach Chris Fleener said about Walker’s blast off Niebrugge. “It boosted our morale in the dugout, that’s for sure.

    “But having the lead in the first game and losing it, we knew their was a lot of game still to play. They gave us a scare, though, scoring a couple runs.”

    T-Town (22-5) won game one 7-2 after trailing the Hearts early. The Shoes answered Effingham’s early two runs with seven unanswered for the win. T-Town had 13 hits, including five that went for extra bases. Kyle Pruemer got the win, and Drew Levitt took the loss for the Hearts.

    Effingham (18-6) got its leadoff batter on base in both the first and second innings of game two, but couldn’t move the runner across. Niebrugge got Trenton Frey to pop out to lead off the third, but the Hearts responded with three straight hits.

    Dylan Lustig went to the opposite field on a low, hard liner to right for a one-out single, and Nick Gardewine followed with a blooper to center field for one of his three singles. That set up Walker’s at bat with runners on first and second.

    Niebrugge got the Effingham shortstop in an early 0-2 hole, but Walker stayed alive at the plate after fouling off a fastball and a changeup. Walker said he was looking for any pitch, but Niebrugge delivered a fastball and Walker took it deep.

    “He’s a pretty good pitcher,” Walker said. “He’s got some nasty stuff. I fell behind in the count at first, but I kept sitting back and he gave me one inside and I turned on it.”

    The wind was blowing out steadily toward left field Thursday night, but...

    “It felt pretty good off the bat,” Walker said with a smile.

    “Took care of it in a hurry,” T-Town coach Justin Fleener said about Walker’s home run ending Niebrugge’s string of innings pitched without an earned run. “It was a good at bat for (Walker), and it was good at bats from the guys in front of him to get on base. (Niebrugge) just left a pitch up.”

    Walker’s three-run home run staked Effingham starting pitcher Alec Quandt with a 3-0 lead. An RBI single from Frey in the fourth that scored courtesy runner Alex Carie had the Hearts leading by four.

    Quandt said the early lead gave him a boost heading back to the mound in the bottom of the third. The Hearts’ senior righty didn’t give up a run until the fifth on an RBI single from Niebrugge.

    “I thought after that ‘Q’ settled down and relaxed,” Chris Fleener said. “I think he got his confidence up when we gave him a little lead. And our defense played well behind him.”

    Quandt pitched six innings and gave up two runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out two and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second. He also pitched ahead in the count frequently.

    “Today’s the best I felt since we played at Mount Vernon (in late March),” Quandt said. “As the game went on, everything was working.

    “Whenever you’re ahead in the count, you can throw whatever you want. There’s no guessing game.”

    Brandon Hemmen, Dylan Niebrugge and Reed Hardiek hit consecutive one-out singles in the second off Quandt before the Hearts’ starter induced back-to-back flyouts to Gardewine in center field.

    Mark Niebrugge, who struck out seven in his complete game, drove in both of the Shoes’ runs with RBI singles in the fifth and seventh innings. Jared Waldhoff singled and scored in the fifth, and Josh Roepke drew a leadoff walk and scored in the seventh.

    T-Town had the tying run on base after Mark Niebrugge and Chase Wendling’s back-to-back singles, but Effingham reliever Tyler Bushue wrapped up the save by striking out Kyle Pruemer and inducing a routine flyout from Bobby Wenthe.

    The Shoes were just a little off at the plate in game two against Quandt and Bushue. T-Town popped out six times against the Hearts’ starter before Bushue shot the door in the seventh.

    “It just seemed like some of our swings were defensive swings,” Justin Fleener said. “I thought Quandt had us off balance a little bit. It just seemed like we lunged, and that caused us to be out front. Your swing gets a little longer when you’re out in front.”

    Effingham will be back in action today at home against Flora before playing an Apollo Conference doubleheader against Charleston at home Saturday. T-Town has a home game today against Neoga.

Game One

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