CARBONDALE — John Russell returned to the mound after pitching two innings on Tuesday and tossed a three-inning shutout to lead Carbondale Elks Lodge 1243 to a 10-0, 5 inning win over Pinckneyville/Du Quoin Post 2504/647 to advance in the winners bracket of the American Legion 25th District West Division Tournament on Wednesday.
"We were able to give a good cushion early on to get out of here after five innings," said Carbondale coach Tim Reiman. "Without having to use another pitcher, I’ve got my pitching set up for the next games, win, lose or draw ... so I’m happy about that."
Carbondale scored six runs in the continued second inning and added two more in the fifth to trigger the 10-run rule.
"I was worried about our batting with the layoff and we haven’t played a lot of games with the rainouts, so I was pretty happy with the overall focus we had," Reiman said. "We are at home in the winner’s bracket, so I’m also happy about that."
On Tuesday, Russell (2-0) had given up a one-out base hit in the first and a leadoff single in the second, but stranded both runners. In the completed game the right-hander didn’t give up a hit and issued only two walks while striking out four.
"Throwing a two-day shutout was a first for me," Russell said. "Actually I felt better today than I did yesterday, so it was almost like a bullpen yesterday. My cutter was working pretty good both days."
Russell got off to a good start. After walking the second batter he faced in the third innin, he retired the next five batters in a row, striking out the last two in the fourth inning.
A fielding error on the leadoff batter in the fifth snapped that streak.
Russell then walked the next batter to put runners at first and second. One out later, Brad Kurtz hit a high pop fly to very short right. Second baseman Vinny Rushing and right fielder Jackson Brandhorst converged on the ball but neither called for it, allowing it to drop.
Brandhorst then made up for the miscue by picking up the ball and throwing the runner from first out at second. Russell stranded the runners to preserve his shutout by striking out the next batter on four pitches.
"Our backs are up against the wall," said Pinckneyville/Du Quoin coach Bill Segelhorst. "We have to come out ready to go tomorrow. I told my guys they have to answer the question, 'Did they do everything in their power to win tomorrow?'"
Carbondale came in with a 2-0 lead on a first inning one-out single by Bodie Jones and two batters later on a fielder’s choice ground to third when Jones beat the throw to the plate.
Grant Jausel (1-3) also returned to the mound with Aiden Skiles on first base and no outs to face the ninth batter in the Carbondale order, Braeden Shirley, who promptly bunted Skiles to second.
Jausel walked Russell, and Rushing did his part to erase the memory of his mistake in the field by driving in Skiles on a ground ball to right. Jones then hit a 2-0 pitch into the gap in left center, scoring courtesy runner Carson Adkins from second.
Jausel then walked Brian Kelley to load the bases, and did the same with Riley Dyer to force in a run. Jackson Brandhorst drove in a run on a ground out to short and Riley Coffer drove in the sixth run on a bloop single down the left line.
Isaac Hardin, who pitched a scoreless fourth inning, hit pinch-hitter Jack Goodale to lead off the fifth and followed with a walk to Shirley. Russell, who had walked twice on Tuesday and struck out in the third inning, hit a 3-1 pitch on a rope to right field to drive in Goodale.
Rushing put the game in the books, driving in his second run of the game with a walk-off, line-drive single to center field.
In the nightcap, Steeleville Post 480 beat Murphysboro Post 127, 14-4, in five innings. Steeleville was outhit six to five, but took advantage of 10 walks by three Murphysboro pitchers, including five with the bases loaded.
Owen Gross went the distance for Steeleville and catcher Jacob Sutton had two singles and a bases-loaded walk to drive in three runs. At the plate Gross drove in two runs on a sacrifice fly and a bases loaded walk.
Murphysboro pitcher Jake Morgan also had three runs batted in on a two-run double in the first to give Post 127 a 2-0 lead and a sacrifice fly.
At the East Division Tournament in West Frankfort, the Orient Express Post 1961 advanced when Christopher had to forfeit because it didn’t have nine players. In the nightcap, Marion Post 147 beat Herrin Post 645, 4-1, to snap Herrin’s four-year streak of advancing to the 5th Division tournament.
The tournament continues Thursday with Carbondale playing Steeleville at 5:30, followed by Pinckneyville/Du Quoin and Murphysboro in an elimination game. At West Frankfort, Christopher plays Marion in an elimination game at 5:30.