FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — With its back against the wall following a 15-4 loss to Murphysboro in the first round of the American Legion Fifth Division tournament, Louisville Post 914 ratcheted up its defense Tuesday morning against the Aviston Post 1239 Express in an attempt to stave off elimination.
Starting pitcher Adam Cox went the distance for Post 914, scattering nine hits over eight innings and allowing just a pair of Post 1239 runs in the fourth. But Express starter Luke Jackson did him one better, limiting Post 914 to a single run off four hits in the Express' 2-1 losers' bracket win.
"Their pitcher did a great job, he kept us off balance," Post 914 coach John Frech said. "We didn't have the big-time hit. That's the way the game goes when you've got a good pitcher on the mound."
Jackson retired the first nine batters he faced, carrying a perfect game into the fourth that was broken up by a double from Cox. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Hunter Clifton's bloop RBI single fell clean in right field to score Cox and give Post 914 a 1-0 lead.
The Express answered right back in the bottom of the frame, tagging Cox for two scores off three hits. An RBI single from Brendan Wilken scored Nolan Haake, who led off the inning by reaching on a Post 914 error, and Justin Becker chopped an RBI infield single that plated Wilken three batters later. The quick two-run frame was all that Post 1239 needed, as Jackson reasserted himself on the mound.Post 914 managed just two more baserunners from there, one in the seventh and eighth innings.
Braden McNeely gave Frech's squad its best chance at knotting the game in the eighth. McNeely delivered a leadoff single, then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Austin Stinnett and ground out by Michael Lovett. Standing on third, Jackson struck out Lawson Britton for his fifth and final K of the game to leave the tying run 90 feet away.
"We just wanted to be right there at the end," Frech said. "We gave ourselves a shot."
Cox, a Class 1A All-State selection for North Clay this past spring as a sophomore, was his usual sturdy self on the mound. Against an aggressive Express team at the plate, Cox and the Post 914 defense left a staggering 12 Post 1239 baserunners stranded.
"He threw well," Express coach Bryan Tebbe said of Cox. "He's real good, threw hard, kept us off balance with a good curveball. He did a great job of battling out too, we had a bunch of runners on."
The loss marked the end to a 15-4 season for the young Post 914 squad, and Frech said his team learned a lot from playing against some stout competition."I thought it was a well-played game on both sides," Frech said. "I've got no complaints either way. It was a great experience for all these kids going forward."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Louisville 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1
Aviston 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 x 2 9 0
Louisville: Clifton (1B, RBI); Walker (1B); McNelly (1B); Cox (2B).
Aviston: Becker (1B, RBI); Jackson (1B); Haake (1B); Gebke (3 1B); Wilken (1B, RBI); Timmermann (1B); Meyer (1B).