Effingham Daily News
St. Anthony fell in a hole early, falling behind 2-0 in the first inning after Champaign Centennial's Jeff Lindgren homered in the game's second at-bat.
While the Bulldogs kept digging, they came up short in their season opener, falling 7-5 to the Chargers Tuesday at Paul Smith Field.
It was a hard-fought effort, as St. Anthony trailed 2-1 after four despite not putting a ball in play to that point, and the Bulldogs would cut a 5-1 lead to 5-4 and a 7-4 lead to 7-5 by the game's end.
So despite the loss, coach Kenny Koenig was happy with the effort for the first outing of the year.
"This is the first time we've fielded groundballs outside," he said. "I've seen some good things out of some good kids."
After Lindgren's homer, Alex Hoelscher weaved in and out of trouble on the hill for the next three innings, keeping the score at 2-0. Zach Gardewine would relieve him at the beginning of the fourth after he reached his pitch count.
His counterpart, Austin Johnson, cruised through the first three innings, striking out nine while only allowing one walk. But the Bulldogs' patience at the plate began to get to him in the fourth.
Austin Bushur, Eli Dasenbrock and Braden Puckett drew three straight walks with one out. Johnson struck out Hoelscher, so the Bulldogs forced the issue.
With the bases loaded, Bushur broke for home and interrupted Johnson's windup, forcing a balk and scoring on the play. Johnson struck out Eric Gurtner to end the frame, ending his day with four innings pitched and 12 strikeouts.
"(Bushur) says 'He's got a long windup,'" Koenig said. "With this group, if we aren't scoring, we're quick enough and we've got just that right group to we can do squirrely things and hopefully make things happen."
The Chargers got after Gardewine in the fifth, scoring on back-to-back doubles by Dylan Grady and Bryan Paul. Lucas Martin drove in a run with a groundout, and Greg Huss made it 5-1 with an RBI single.
But the Bulldogs kept charging. Jacob Lorenz was hit by a pitch with two outs, Neil Williams recorded the first hit of the game to follow, and Bushur walked. With a full count and two outs, the runners took off and Dasenbrock cleared the bases with a double to left-center.
"He doesn't score on a ball to the left-center gap if he's not off," Koenig said. "It was nice to see (Dasenbrock) get that pitch, he got a swing on it and that's what got us going."
Centennial scored two more in the sixth, only to be coutnered by a two-out RBI single by Lorenz in the sixth. But the comeback ended there, as both teams went scoreless in the seventh.
Hoelscher took the loss, giving up two runs in three innings on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts. Gardewine gave up five runs in four innings on six hits.
Bushur went 0-for-1 but scored twice and stole two bases, with three walks. Dasenbrock was 1-for-2 with three RBIs, Neil Williams was 1-for-4, Lorenz was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Bryar Jansen was 1-for-1 with a run scored.
"Our batters, we all went deep (in counts)," Koenig said. "If we put the ball in play, make people field it, if you hit it you've got a chance to get on."
St. Anthony (0-1) hosts Breese Mater Dei at 11 a.m. Saturday for a doubleheader.
Champaign Centennial 200 032 0 7 10 0
St. Anthony 000 131 0 5 4 0
WP - Johnson (4 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 12 K, 4 BB) LP - Hoelscher (3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 K, 4 BB) SV - Smith (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB)
CC: Perks (1-2, 2 R, 2 BB); Lindgren (1-4, HR, 2 RBI, R); Grady (3-4, 2B, 2 RB, SB); Paul (2-3, 2B, RBI, R, BB); Johnson (2-4, 2 RBI); Herman (0-3, R, BB); Martin (0-3, RBI); Huss (1-1, RBI)
SA: Lorenz (1-3, RBI, R, HBP); Williams (1-4, R); Bushur (0-1, R, 3 BB, SB); Dasenbrock (1-2, 2B, 3 RBI, BB); Puckett (0-2, 2 BB); Jansen (1-1, R)