FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Traveling 100 miles to the east side of St. Louis and George Lanxon Field for its American Legion Fifth Division debut, Effingham Post 120 was greeted with less-than-open arms on Monday.
Paired in the nightcap against the host squad in Fairview Heights Post 978, Post 120 couldn't overcome an early 4-0 deficit and dropped its tournament opener 13-6 to fall one loss away from elimination.
Post 120 plays today at 1 p.m. against Steeleville, which fell on Monday against Edwardsville, in the hopes of extending its season. Should Post 120 win, it would take on the winner of today's matchup between Belleville and Murphysboro on Wednesday at 1 p.m. as well.
Post 978's offense proved to be too potent against starter Devin Mayfield and the Post 120 defense. The home team notched 15 hits, with 12 coming against Mayfield in his 5.1 innings of work. Post 978 scored four runs in the second inning to take command of the game, then methodically build its lead to 10-1 through six innings of action.
After spotting Post 978 a nine-run cushion, coach Brian Hayes and company battled back in the seventh inning. The offense, kept quiet for much of the game, finally cracked Post 978 starter Ethan Wild, who had held Post 120 to three hits up to that point.
Carter Hayes delivered a leadoff single and stolen base to get in scoring position, and Devon Wright brought him home one batter later with his RBI double to left field.
A walk to Drew Levitt and infield single from Clayton Ruckman loaded the bags with one out. Kenton Albin, pinch hitting for Trenton Frey, was walked to score Wright and cut the lead to 10-3, before Tanner Traub hit into an error by Post 978 shortstop Tanner Hudson that scored two more.
Post 120's final run came off another Post 978 error, its second of the seventh, when catcher Brenndon Tindall misfired on his attempt to pick off Albin stealing third, who subsequently trotted home.
But the 10-6 score was as close as Post 120 would come. Post 978's brute with its bats was too great, tacking on three more runs in the eighth to close the 13-6 victory.
Drew Levitt did his fair share of the damage at the plate for Post 120, closing with two doubles pasted to deep left field. Ruckman also finished a sacrifice RBI that scored Levitt for the first Post 120 run of the game in the fifth inning.
Preston Walker pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Mayfield, who took the loss, allowing three runs off three hits. Walker also closed with three strikeouts.
Wild picked up the win for Post 978, finishing his day by allowing six runs off seven hits and eight strikeouts.
Effingham		0 0 0	0 1 0	5 0 0	6 7 2
Fairview Heights	0 4 2	0 2 2 	0 3 x	13 15 2
WP - Wild LP - Mayfield
Effingham: McDonald (RBI); Quandt (2B); Hayes (1B); Wright (1B, 2B, RBI); Dr. Levitt (2 2B); Ruckman (1B, RBI). Albin (RBI).