Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


March 25, 2014

Neoga, North Clay play to a draw — again

NEOGA — The umpire called the game as the sun disappeared behind the trees in left field, before the 10th inning of a North Clay and Neoga 6-6 tie on Monday.

It was the second time during this school year the two teams have tied on Neoga’s field — the first, this fall — and it left another unfinished feeling for the opposing coaches. But both agreed it was a valid decision.

“You can’t really argue with it,” Neoga head coach Ted Kerner said. “You don’t want some kid not to see the ball and take one in the eye. It sucks, but it is what it is.”

North Clay head coach John Frech said the score would’ve reverted to the last full inning, considering the possibility of an incomplete 10th.

Dylan Bailey, Jordon Byers and Michael Lovett were due up for the Cardinals in the top half of the inning.

Neoga’s Matt Kingery would’ve been the third batter of the 10th inning for the Indians. Kingery’s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh sparked a comeback rally that finished with one more swing of the bat.

Tyler Romack ended starting pitcher Braden McNeely’s night with a game-tying solo blast, with one out in the seventh. McNeely shut out the Indians, after giving up four runs in the second inning, during the Cardinals’ comeback.

Jake Baker was stranded on second base to end the seventh, then the Indians left the bases loaded in the eighth inning as Romack struck out for the third time in the game.

Kerner said the eighth inning changed when Kingery grounded out to Lovett, the second baseman, for the second out. The ground ball kicked off of Lovett’s foot, but he recovered in time to throw Kingery out at first base.

“It was bang, bang,” Kerner said. “(Lovett) kept his composure. That changed the whole complexion of that inning.”

Byers, in relief, hit Neoga’s Zach Monroe with a pitch to load the bases. He regrouped and struck out Romack swinging to end the inning.

Byers gave up a walk, but picked up all three ninth-inning outs with strikeouts.

“Jordan was huge,” Frech said. “He has stepped up his quality of pitching and is moving up to one of our top arms. That’s a good look into the future.”

North Clay went hitless in the last three innings of the game, but drew three walks. A leadoff walk by Lovett, in the eighth inning, was scrapped by a double play.

Adam Cox walked in the seventh inning, but was stranded on second base by back-to-back strikeouts. Lawson Britton walked in the ninth, but a strikeout and groundout ended any possible rally.

Neoga’s pitching only gave up two hits outside of fifth inning, when the Cardinals made a comeback and took the lead, 6-4.

The Cardinals drew three walks in the inning. McNeely walked to score a run, but an outfield error on a deep fly ball by Cox cost the Indians two runs.

Cox hit to deep right field, but Logan Rankin dropped the ball. North Clay scored two on the play, before executing a double steal with Cox and McNeely that scored McNeely.

After keeping Cox in a pickle between bases, a Neoga infielder dropped the ball and desperately threw the ball home, instead of second base for an easy second out. Kerner wanted the out at second.

Cox ended up being the sixth run for the Cardinals, coming around to score on a Byers grounder.

“We were patient (in the fifth inning) and got them to make a couple mistakes,” Frech said. “We got hitters’ counts and got some of our better hitters to come up and get the bat on the ball.”

North Clay (2-1-1) returns to action at 4:30 p.m. today at Brownstown/St. Elmo. Neoga (2-0-1) also hits the road for a 4:30 p.m. first pitch against Tolono Unity.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or alex.mcnamee@effinghamdailynews.com.

North Clay     100      050      000     6      4      2

Neoga     040      000      200     6      11      1

North Clay: Britton (2 BB, SB, R), McNeely (2 BB, RBI, SB, R), Cox (2 BB, 1B, 2 RBI, 2 R, SB), Bailey (1B, BB), Byers (2B, 2 RBI, SB), Lovett (BB), Repking (BB, R), Warren (2 1B, R)

Neoga: Kingery (HR, 1B, RBI), Romack (HR, 1B, RBI), Baker (1B, BB, R), Moore (1B, BB), Walk (2B, RBI), Easton (1B, 2 R), Olmstead (HR, 3 RBI), Rankin (2 1B)


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