---- — TEUTOPOLIS — A familiar foe stood between Effingham American Legion Post 120 and a third consecutive District 23 title on Tuesday night. Robinson Post 69 came up just short against Post 120 on July 9, falling 5-4, then lost again in the first round of the District 23 tournament by an 11-2 final margin. Four-straight victories in the losers' bracket, however, set the stage for yet another rematch.
Post 69 needed to win back-to-back games to claim Tuesday's title, but Post 120 stood its ground from the start. A three-run first inning, along with Devin Mayfield's five-strikeout, complete-game performance on the mound, fueled a dominating 8-1 win as Post 120 took its seventh straight game and secured an impressive District 23 three-peat.
"We had a day off [yesterday] fortunately," Post 120 coach Brian Hayes said. "We played well through the bracket. I know Robinson had a tough go, two games yesterday. An early lead, thinking they might be a little tired, that was big."
Alec Quandt and Carter Hayes singled in the first inning to give Post 120 a pair of early baserunners, and Drew Levitt's deep double to left center cleared the bags for a 2-0 lead out of the gates. One batter later in was brother Dirk's turn, whose RBI single to left gave Post 120 a 3-0 edge through one.
"It always gives your pitcher so much more confidence," coach Brian Hayes said of the fast start, "so much more room to work with."
The 3-0 lead suited Mayfield well, who was in complete control. Post 69 was held scoreless through the first six innings, never managing more than two hits in a single frame.
"I like to start off with offspeed a lot, keep them off-balance," Mayfield said. "Try to hit my spots, that's about all you can do.
"We usually start off slow, but we got ahead and that's great. It's a lot better than 0-0 and all the pressure on you."
Post 120 gradually built on its lead in the middle innings. Tanner Traub (Dieterich) led off the fourth with a double, and scored two batters later on a wild pitch. Quandt delivered his first of a game-high two RBIs on a sacrifice fly to left field later in the inning that pushed the Post 120 lead to five.
Quandt came up big again in the sixth, when he laced an RBI double to right center that scored Nate McDonald all the way from first.
"All summer long, if there's one player that's been putting the ball on the barrell, it's probably been Alec," Hayes said.
Now holding a 6-0 lead, Post 69 brought a runner across in the seventh when Logan Johnson plated Weston Shipman, who reached on an error. Johnson's RBI put Post 69 on the board, but the five-run deficit was as close as the losers' bracket champion would come.
Mayfield retired the final six batters, and Post 120 added another pair in the eighth when Quandt scored on a wild pitch and Hayes drove an RBI single to right to close the scoring at 8-1.
Mayfield seemed to grow stronger as the game wore on, a trait he attributed to his approach on the mound.
"I tell everybody that I don't throw hard enough for my arm to get sore," he said. "I don't try to overthrow, just hit my spots."
Mayfield scattered five hits in his nine innings, closing with five Ks and three walks.Quandt led Post 120 at the plate with three hits and his two RBIs, while Drew Levitt also knocked in a pair off his first-inning double. Hayes, Devon Wright and Dirk Levitt finished with one RBI apiece.
"We're all coming together just at the time you want to come together," Hayes said. "They're fun to watch when they're playing well."
Post 120 traveled to Metropolis in 2011 after its district championship, Pinckneyville in 2012 and will now head to Fairview Heights on Monday, July 22, for a date with an undetermined opponent.
"It feels great," Mayfield said. "We're going to go to this next tournament [and] try to win it, keep going as long as we can."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com
Robinson 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 5 1
Effingham 3 0 0 2 0 1 0 2 x 8 13 1
WP - Mayfield LP - Jones
Robinson: Johnson (RBI); Jones (2B); Hale (1B); Schmidlin (1B); Crawford (1B); Blankenbaker (1B)
.Effingham: McDonald (2 1B, 2B); Quandt (2 1B, 2B, 2 RBI); Hayes (2 1B, RBI); Wright (1B, RBI); Dr. Levitt (2B, 2 RBI); Di. Levitt (2 1B, RBI); Traub (2B).