A couple of costly errors in the third and fourth innings from the defense of the Winsdor/Stewardson-Strasburg Hatchets let in four runs to help the Neoga Indians grab the 4-1 victory Monday in the IHSA Class 1A Regional Quarterfinals.
In the top of the third inning, Neoga's Nate Lacy walked and made it to second on a stolen base. Adam Fearday was hit by a pitch from Hatchets Logan Greuel. Trenton Moore grounded out to move the runners and Issac Walk struck out. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Chase Lanham hit a pop fly out to right field. Hatchets right fielder Graham Casey could not grasp the ball in his glove which caused Lacy and Fearday to score the first runs of the game.
"We knew it was going to be a tight ballgame. Runs were going to be at a premium," head coach of the Indians Adam Stults said. "So we did everything we could. Just scrape across a couple runs. Helped him [Trenton Moore] out."
Moore was on the mound for the Indians. He gave up two hits between the third and sixth innings.
"He's been our top pitcher all year long and it hasn't been close," Stults said. "He's been like that all season long. He's came out and been a bulldog. He didn't get too many innings [as a sophomore], this year as a junior we've got a lot of pitching to replace and he's really stepped up."
The other costly errors that put two more runs on the board for Neoga came in the next inning. Chase Banning singled to center field. Luke Romack hit a grounder to Hatchets third baseman Derek Slifer and the ball got under his glove and could not get Romack out at first. Kaden Young bunted towards the short stop and got an infield single to load the bases as no one covered first base. Stults said that bunting was one of the things they worked on in practice and knew that bunting would work in this situation.
"I knew if we bunted, especially here, a little bit thicker grass [the] ball is going to be harder to handle so on Saturday, we spent extra time focusing on bunting," Stults said. "We knew that was going to be part of our game plan today."
With the bases loaded, Lacy hit a dribbler down the third base line and Slifer once again could not handle the ball which brought in Romack and Banning to take a 4-0 lead.
"He just played it. I'm not quite sure what happened. I think he just missed it," head coach of the Hatchets Justin Hunt said. "Kind of played it off to the side it looked like. Didn't quite get in front of it. I don't know if he had time to get in front of it or thought a backhand would be easiest."
In the bottom of the seventh, Hatchets' Gavan Wernsing belted a home run to get his team on the board, but that was all for the Hatchets as Moore set down the next three batters.
The Indians will play St. Anthony Wednesday at 4 p.m.