SALEM — When Dylan Perrott struck out with two men on in the top of the first inning Saturday, he had no idea it would be Carbondale's best chance to score all day against Drake Downing and Waterloo.
Downing, a junior right-hander, struck out nine and didn't allow an extra-base hit for the last six innings of the Bulldogs' 3-1 victory at Salem High School. The Terriers, as they have most of this postseason, made it interesting late but came up short to end their deepest playoff run in decades.
"You gotta tip your hat to Waterloo. They did an excellent job on the mound and defensively to shut us down," Carbondale coach Scott Hankey said. "We didn't get the clutch hit like we had been lately, but, you still gotta tip your cap. Our guys battled back. We had the tying run coming to the plate in the seventh inning, but we faced a pretty good pitcher today that did a good job of executing and keeping us off balance."
Carbondale won its first regional since 2014 and was aiming for its first sectional title in baseball. Perrott beat out shortstop Josh Wittenauer's throw to lead off the seventh inning with an infield single and went to second on Aidan Skiles' ground out to second. Riley Coffer singled to right-center field to put the Terriers (20-8) on the board, but Downing struck out pinch hitter Braeden Shirley to end it.
Carbondale made Downing throw 25 pitches in the first inning, but struggled to pick up his slider. Leading with the fastball, Downing was able to mix in enough sliders and curveballs to keep the Terriers from sitting dead red all day. He didn't walk a single batter and retired 13 of 14 hitters at one point.
"He's very aggressive, and we had heard that they attack the fastball and they're a very aggressive offense, and I think the key was he started to get that slider over consistently," Waterloo coach Mark Vogel said. "When he started to throw that breaking ball over, that kept them off the fastball, and that made him pretty difficult to score on."
Waterloo (22-12) scored all three runs in the third without a hit. Carbondale starter Bodie Jones, one of six seniors on the squad, walked Graham Baker and hit Sam Kreinberg when he was attempting to bunt to put two on. A walk to leadoff hitter Tyson Roedl loaded the bases. Ty Kueper followed with a fly ball to the fence in right that went for a sacrifice fly. Waterloo went up 3-0 off two errors on the same fly ball to left fielder Jack Goodale.
Goodale appeared to get under Dustin Crawford's high fly ball to left for the second out of the inning, but it drifted toward the infield at the last second. Crawford got it in his glove but dropped it for an error. He then picked up the ball and threw past the cutoff man, skipping it all the way out of the infield and toward the Waterloo dugout.
Kreinberg scored for a 2-0 lead and Roedl went to third. Marcus Heusohn's sac fly to right made it 3-0. Jones scattered three hits the rest of the way but took the loss in his last start.
Waterloo advanced to meet Effingham in Monday's Sauget super-sectional.