WINDSOR — Shelby County Posts 298/611/725 took to the batting cages this weekend, looking to improve upon an early season slump at the plate.
The extra work paid off on Thursday to the tune of four extra-base hits, two home runs and a 12-2 victory over St. Anthony's summer team in Game 1 of a doubleheader."We got the bats going finally," Shelby County coach Tony Price said. "We had some good, long-drive base hits."Shelby County got a strong showing from its Windsor/Stew-Stras contingent. Gunner Thies and Hayden Cole each hit two-run homers, and Christian Vonderheide closed with a single and double to drive in three more runs. Coach Price's squad belted out nine hits in Game 1, four of which came in an eight-run outburst in the fifth that put the game on ice for the run-rule."We hit it really well today," he said. "Hopefully we got things rolling now, and we can keep it rolling."Ahead 4-2 through four, St. Anthony starter Alex Hoelscher found trouble in what turned out to be the final inning after hitting Cole and walking the next two batters. Shelby County's Luke McConell (Shelbyville) delivered with the bases loaded on a two-RBI single to left field for a 6-2 edge. Aaron White (Windsor/Stew-Stras) reached first on a dropped strike in the ensuing at-bat, before another baserunner scored on a wild pitch."I thought Alex pitched good for four innings," St. Anthony coach Kenny Miller said. "Then we gave them a few freebies. They're a good team."Vonderheide made it a 9-2 ballgame for Shelby County with his two-RBI double to left center, and Jake Keown (Shelbyville) tacked on another with an RBI double to the exact same spot in left one batter later.Thies put an exclamation point on Game 1, sending a fastball over the fence in dead center to close the scoring at 12-2."When it's 4-2 going into the fifth, that's not bad for these kids," Miller said. "You hope something good can happen."St. Anthony hung tough in the game's early stretches, taking a 1-0 lead off a walk in the top of the first. After falling behind 2-1, the Bulldogs tied it up in the third. Neil Ritz singled to left and stole second, and Hoelscher's infield single advanced the runner to third. Zach Gardewine stepped into the batter's box and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to score Ritz and knot the score at two runs apiece.But the Shelby County bats were just too strong. In the bottom of the third, Shelby County seized the lead right back off Cole's two-run souvenir to left field that scored Thies, who was walked to start the inning.McConnell picked up the win for Shelby County, scattering three hits and allowing two runs in 3.1 innings. Ben Helton (Windsor/Stew-Stras) entered the game in the fourth, and held St. Anthony off the board for the final 1.2 innings."I knew Benny would throw strikes," Price said. "He pitched to contact, let the defense do the work behind him. That's what we've got to do as a team. Walks are going to kill us, we've got to have strikes."Hoelscher took the loss for St. Anthony, striking out five batters with three walks for the Bulldogs.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Anthony	1 0 1	0 0 x	x	2 5 2Shelby County	1 1 2	0 8 x	x	12 9 0WP - McConnell	LP - HoelscherSt. Anthony: Ritz (1B); Hoelscher (2 1B); Gardewine (RBI); Bourgeois (1B).Shelby County: Vonderheide (1B, 2B, 3 RBI); Keown (1B, 2B, RBI); Thies (1B, HR, 2 RBI); Cole (HR, RBI); Hawkins (2B); McConell (1B, 2 RBI).