CARBONDALE — Ryan Vogt tossed a two-hit shutout to lead Steeleville Post 480 to a 6-0 win over Carbondale Elks Lodge 1243 in the American Legion 25th District West Division Tournament's winners' bracket on Thursday.
"It was a good game all the way around," said Steeleville coach John Sutton. "We had a lot of runners left, but we were hitting the ball and making contact. Probably the biggest hit of the game is A.J. Stearns getting that base hit between short and third in the second inning. When you get production out of the bottom two in your lineup good things happen."
Top seed Steeleville has a day off before moving to West Frankfort to take on the top seed of the East Division, the Orient Express Post 1961, on Saturday night at 5:30.
Carbondale dropped into the losers’ bracket. They would have next faced Murphysboro Post 127, which eliminated Pinckneyville/Du Quoin Post 2504/647, 5-3, in the late Thursday game. But due to a lack of players available, Post 127 had to forfeit and drop out of the tournament.
"We ran into a very good pitcher," said Carbondale coach Tim Reiman. "We just couldn’t get the bats going, but that’s baseball. I thought we hung in there real well for five innings. We gave them a game."
Vogt threw only 88 pitches, finishing with 10 strikeouts and only one walk. He gave up a leadoff bloop double to John Russell to open the game, but stranded him at second thanks to a great play by third baseman Jordan Wilson on a tough ground ball, and two strikeouts.
"I knew once they got on base I wasn’t going to let them get all the way home," Vogt said. "I was getting the fastball in a lot in the first few innings, but after that I was throwing my curveball and changeup more."
Vogt had retired 12 in a row, including four more by strikeout, when Jackson Brandhorst beat out a high hopper to second base to lead off the fifth to snap the streak.
Two outs later, Brandhorst advanced to second on an errant throw by Vogt on a comebacker by his counterpart Braeden Shirley, but he stranded the runners by getting Aiden Skiles on a ground ball to short. He finished the game pitching around a two-out walk in the sixth and striking out the last two batters in the seventh.
Shirley got the first out in the first, but walked the next batter and gave up a base hit to Owen Gross, before stranding the runners on a line drive to right field. The left-hander retired the first two batters in the second before Gavin Conway golfed a 2-2 pitch to right center.
Conway advanced to third on consecutive wild pitches and scored on a ground ball past the third baseman by A.J. Stearns to give Steeleville a 1-0 lead. Post 480 doubled its lead in the fourth by loading the bases with one out on a bunt single by Stearns and consecutive walks.
Brandhorst replaced Shirley and Stearns scored on a fielders’ choice ground ball to short by Owen Gross. Dusty Sutton tried to follow Stearns across the plate when the attempted double play throw to first was late, but first baseman Riley Dyer gunned him out at the plate for the third out.
Brandhorst pitched around a one-out error in the fifth by striking out the side, but two errors to start the sixth were followed by a RBI single by Dusty Sutton and a two-out sacrifice fly by Gross. Vogt put the exclamation point on his night by driving in the final runs on a line drive double over the head of the left fielder.
At the East Division Tournament, Christopher eliminated Marion, 4-3. Due to Murphysboro not having enough players slated for Saturday's game, Christopher will play the loser of Steeleville and Orient at a time to be determined Sunday in West Frankfort.