DU QUOIN – Kenny Peterein did it all for Murphysboro, driving in the winning run on a triple in the ninth inning and picking up the win with three innings in relief as the Red Devils rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Du Quoin 6-5 in a non-conference baseball game Monday.
“My main priority was to throw strikes,” Peterein said. “I was just hitting it to the outfield because we had runners at third and second and I wanted to get something deep. He threw me a fastball high and I thought he was going to catch it, but I kept running anyway. I looked at Coach (Andy) Winters and he wasn’t even looking at me, so I just ran to third. It was really fun to be in that situation.”
After a rough start, in which Murphysboro lost their first seven games and 12 of its first 14, the Red Devils have hit their stride winning two of its last three games with eight games remaining in the regular season.
“I wouldn’t say we’re getting hot, but we played a good seven innings after coming out flat,” Winters said. “We were fortunate to have some timely hitting at the end. We always talk about one run is never enough, so Kenny’s triple for the last two runs was crucial. Jake Morgan had some unfortunate things happen in the first inning on a pop fly that should have been caught. So he threw his tail off to keep us in it.”
Du Quoin (15-10) lost its third game in a row for the first time this season after losing a doubleheader at Carmi-White County Saturday.
“We kind of satisfied with three runs early and took the foot off the pedal,” said Du Quoin coach Kyle Geiger. “Brian Winters threw a heck of a game for it being his first start. I though Charley Mercier did a fantastic job coming in and making his first appearance of the year. We’re on fumes a little coming off a tough week where we used a lot of arms. But everybody’s tired and that’s part of it you have to grind it out and see what happens. The problem was we didn’t hit.”
Murphysboro (5-13) pounded out 12 hits led by shortstop Seth Daniels with four hits and two runs scored and centerfielder Brandon Caldwell with three hits, four RBIs, including a two-run homerun, and two runs scored.
“I’ve had a few four-hit games, but not this year,” Daniels said. “I wished people were on base in front of me, so I had to get the rally started and trust my teammates behind me.”
Brian Winters, who was making his first start on the mound this season, had handcuffed the Red Devils over the first four innings pitching around a one-out double by Morgan in the second, back-to-back two-out singles by Sam Dietz and Daniels in the third and a two-out walk in the fourth.
Murphysboro finally broke the freshman right-hander’s shutout bid in the fifth when Ryan Chambers reached on a one-out single and Caldwell drove him home on a two-out line drive to center to cut the lead to 3-1.
“I was 0-for-2, but baseball is all about making adjustments,” Caldwell said. “He was throwing a little bit slower than I’m used to, so I had to adjust and work on timing to put the ball in play and help my team score runs.”
Winters pitched around a two-out walk in the sixth and had Murphysboro down to its last strike in the seventh when Daniels singled to left center to bring Caldwell to the plate as Murphysboro last hope. The senior cranked Winters’ first pitch out of The Ballpark just to the right of the 375-feet sign in centerfield to tie the game.
“I knew he was going to throw me outside, so that’s what I was adjusting to to hit the ball that way and it happened to go over,” Caldwell said.
Peterein (2-2) relieved Morgan in the bottom of the frame and pitched around a two-out walk to send the game into extra innings.
Charley Mercier (0-1) took over the pitching duties for the Indians in the eighth and pitched around a two-out hit Corbin Guthman, but Peterein pitched around a one-out hit by Winters to send the game into the ninth.
With one out Mercier walked Dietz on a 3-2 pitch. Daniels followed with his fourth hit in a row to put runners at first and second and Caldwell gave the Red Devils the lead with a hard hit ground ball that bounced off the mound into center field. Caldwell advanced to second when Daniels beat the throw to third.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Caldwell said. “I’m so proud of my teammates I can’t even describe it.”
Peterein was next and was 0-for-4 without getting the ball out of the infield, but hit a seeing eye fly ball that fell in between the centerfielder and right fielder in right center and bounced away to clear the bases to up the lead to 6-3.
Peterein was within a strike of closing out the game when he hit Alex Zimmerman on a 0-2 pitch. He got ahead of Tevon Lee 0-1 when he committed a balk. Two pitches later Lee hit his fourth homerun of the season to right field to cut the lead to 6-5.
“I should have thrown a curveball, but I threw a fastball and as soon as he hit I knew it was gone,” Peterein said. “It didn’t matter because we still had the lead, so I just continued to throw strikes.”
Peteren fell behind on a high inside pitch, but got the final out by getting Hank Stewart on a fly ball to center.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first on a throwing error that allowed a run to score and two-out bases loaded single by Mercier. Du Quoin upped its lead to 3-0 in the third on a one-out single by Stewart and a two-out double by Winters.