TEUTOPOLIS — Riding a five-game winning streak, visiting Shelby County Posts 289/611/724 never trailed against Teutopolis Post 924 during Game 1 of Thursday’s Senior Legion five-inning doubleheader.
Shelby County scored first and broke a 1-1 tie with five unanswered runs, holding off a late Post 924 charge for a 6-4 victory to extend the streak to six.
One day after being named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State team, Christian Vonderheide pitched three innings of one-hit baseball to guide his team to the win. The Windsor/Stew-Stras right-hander struck out four in his time on the mound, surrendering one run off a Shelby County (10-6) error in the second.
Yet the run did not prove costly, as a number of uncharacteristic mistakes came back to haunt Post 924. Coach Collin Niemerg’s squad committed three errors and allowed one run off a passed ball.
“It was the big errors early in the ballgame that cost us,” he said. “At the end, it was too little too late.”
Shelby County wasted no time getting on the board in the first. Jake Keown (Shelbyville) hit an infield single and advanced to third off a sacrifice hit from Gunner Thies (Windsor/Stew-Stras) and walk to Hayden Cole (Windsor/Stew-Stras).
Post 924 starter Andy Borries (Teutopolis) delivered a pitch that catcher Jordan Thoele (Teutopolis) couldn’t handle in the ensuing at-bat, giving Keown an easy route home on a passed ball.
“Those mistakes will come back and get you,” Niemerg said.
It didn’t, at least momentarily. Post 924 tied the game in the second at one when Cody Will (Teutopolis) laced a triple to right center and scored off an error one batter later.
But Shelby County, riding the middle of its order and capitalizing on a pair of errors, tacked on five over the next two innings.
Michael Baker (Neoga) and Keown led off the inning with back-to-back singles, before Thies, batting third, ripped a base-clearing double that gave Shelby County a 3-1 edge.
“Gunner—he’s been doing it all year,” Shelby County coach Tony Price of Thies’ big bat.
Borries walked the next two batters to load the bases with one out, but responded by getting Neil Yockey (Shelbyville) to pop to left. With two down, Borries walked his fourth batter of the game in Trevor Moore (Noega) to score Thies.
Shelby County tacked on two more in the fourth. Leading 4-1, Ben Helton (Windsor/Stew-Stras) and Baker each reached first on consecutive Post 924 errors. Cole made the home team pay two batters later, sending a two-RBI double that dropped clear in right center.
“Hayden struggled a little big at the beginning of the year, but it was good to see him go to right and drive in those two runs in his last at-bat,” Price said. “Usually Hayden bats fifth, but (Luke) Hatfield (Shelbyville) wasn’t here, so we moved him up to fourth.”
Post 924 still had some life in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs on a two-out rally. Borries started the comeback attempt by reaching first on balls, and John Ungrund (Teutopolis) stepped into a double to put runners on the corners.
Tommy Flach delivered a single to left to score Borries, and a subsequent throwing error from Baker allowed another runner to score. Baker’s attempted throw home sailed well wide, allowing Flach to coast all the way to third.
“A couple little mental errors there,” Price said. “We missed a cutoff man and gave up an extra run, the hitter gets an extra base. We can’t afford to do those things.”
Post 924 took advantage, as Justin Kenter’s RBI single scored Flach and cut the deficit to 6-4.
“They were hitting the ball good,” Niemerg said of his team’s late-game batting. “It wasn’t too bad, they put the bat on the ball.”
Thies made sure that didn’t happen in the seventh. Sent in to close the game, he struck out three of four to end the game in convincing fashion and earn the save. The sole baserunner reached first when Thies hit Darren Probst (Teutopolis) in the first pitch of the inning.
“The hit batsman was the only baserunner he’s allowed all year,” Price said. “We use him as our closer, he’s pitched about five innings (this year).”
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com
Shelby County 1 0 3 2 0 6 7 2
Teutopolis 0 1 0 3 0 4 4 3
WP - Vonderheide LP - Borries SV - Theis
Shelby County: Baker (1B); Keown (2 1B): Thies (2B, 2 RBI); Cole (1B, 2 RBI); Yockey (2 1B); Moore (RBI).
Teutopolis: Flach (1B, RBI); Kenter (1B, RBI); Will (3B); Ungrund (2B).