Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Sports

July 16, 2014

Effingham Post 120 eliminated in 6-4 loss

ROBINSON — Effingham Post 120 fell in an early hole and couldn’t recover, losing to Robinson Post 69 6-4 and ending their three-year reign as District 23 champions.

The loss knocked them out of the the double-elimination tournament, after losing 15-1 Sunday to Olney Post 30.

It was a frustrating loss for the defending champions, a defeat in which Alex Hoelscher was ejecting for arguing balls and strikes, a common theme of the game.

Robinson starting pitcher B.J. Ramsey made his living on the black and low, but the Effingham Post 120 batters routinely were shaking their heads at strike calls.

“We didn’t hit the ball as well we’re capable, but it seemed like we were forced to swing at bad pitches,” said Effingham Post 120 coach Brian Hayes. “A good hitter won’t swing at a bad strike. It’s tough to make that adjustment during a game.”

With their season on the line, Post 120 came out with a solid first inning and two runs. Neil Williams led off with a walk and scored on a two-out RBI double by Alex Hoelscher, and Hoelscher scored thanks to an error by Robinson shortstop Rex Grissom.

Robinson came right back and took control. Grissom scored on a wild pitch in the second, and Post 69 pushed across four more in the third. Tyler Woods had an RBI single, Cole Blankenbeker had a sacrifice fly and Joe Riggs had a two-out, two-run single to make it 5-2.

Post 120 scored in the bottom of the third without the benefit of a hit. Clayton Ruckman reached on a fielder’s choice, stole two bases, and scored on a Grissom error, his third of the game to that point.

Robinson threatened again in the sixth, putting runners at second and third on a catcher’s interference call and a hit-by-pitch with one out. Ruckman got a ground ball to Preston Walker at third, and got Logan Goodwin at home for the second out. Ruckman hit Woods, but escaped the bases-loaded jam by striking out Grissom to keep it 5-3.

But the bats continued to stay quiet for much of the game, similar to Sunday’s loss to Olney Post 30. After Hoelscher’s two-out double in the first, Brennan Poland’s two-out single in the sixth was Post 120’s first hit for five innings.

The team combined for just five hits in two games, which Hayes admitted wasn’t enough.

“You’re not going to win many games (like that),” Hayes said. “It seemed like we may have had some defensive blunders. It’s a tough loss. We didn’t score enough runs.”

Effingham Post 120 put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh with an error and a Jacob Miller single. Alex Bohnhoff advanced to third with two outs, but Ramsey forced a popup back to the mound by Ruckman to end the threat and keep the score 5-3.

Frustrations boiled over with the strike zone in the eighth inning. Hoelscher took a called third strike but thought it was ball four, getting rung up in the process and being ejected after arguing the call. The umpires had said earlier in the game there wouldn’t be arguing on balls and strikes.

Grissom added an insurance run in the ninth with a solo home run to left field to put Robinson up 6-3. Walker scored in the ninth after reaching on an error and scoring on a Miller RBI groundout, and the game ended on a bang-bang play at first base to retire Ruckman and end the game.

Ruckman took the loss, allowing five runs on three hits, four walks and four hit by pitches while striking out nine.

Hoelscher was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a double with a run, Poland was 2-for-4 and Miller was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Neil Williams and Ruckman also scored.

Robinson advances to play Vandalia Post 95 at 4 p.m. today, with the winner playing Teutopolis Post 924 .

It ends Effingham’s season and Post 120’s district title run, but Hayes always has a singular goal for the season.

“The thing I told them the first day and the thing I told them the last day of the season was that I wanted them to work on their game, at some point get better,” Hayes said. “If any of that was accomplished, it was a successful season.”

Robinson Post 69     014     000     001     6 5 5

Effingham Post 120     201     000     001     4 4 2

WP - Ramsey (9 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB) LP - Ruckman (6 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 9 K, 4 BB)

Robinson: Sheil (0-3, BB, HBP, SB); Ramsey (0-4, R, HBP); Woods (1-3, RBI, R, BB, HBP); Grissom (1-3, HR, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB); Staley (1-4, R, BB) Blankenbeker (0-3, RBI, HBP); Riggs (1-4, 2 RBI); Goodwin (1-3, 2 SB)

Effingham: Williams (0-3, R, BB, HBP); Ruckman (0-5, R, 2 SB); Hoelscher (1-4, 2B, RBI, R); Poland (2-4); Walker (0-4, R, SB); Miller (1-4, RBI)

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