DU QUOIN — For five innings on Monday, Du Quoin played Nashville to a 3-3 tie.
But the sixth inning doomed the Indians’ bid for a SIRR Mississippi baseball upset.
Taking advantage of three errors, three walks and a hit batter, the Hornets put up a 10-spot that turned a good game into a blowout. The 13-3, six-inning decision enabled Nashville to keep its hopes of a conference title alive while snapping Du Quoin’s four-game winning streak.
“We just lost focus,” Indians coach Kyle Geiger said.
Along with a lost focus came losing control of the ball. The three errors made nine of the inning’s runs unearned. Getting outs against the Hornets (20-3, 7-1), who are averaging more than nine runs per game, is hard enough without gifting them an extra inning’s worth, as Du Quoin did in the sixth.
Taking advantage of three errors, three walks and a hit batter, the Hornets put up a 10-spot that turned a good game into a blowout. The 13-3,…
One of those errors on a one-hopper to third put Cole Malawy on base to start the inning. A single and walk filled the bases for Bryce Bultman, who forced the tie-breaking home in painful fashion when he was plunked in the back of the neck by a breaking ball.
One out later, Tanner Bergmann drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-3. A dropped fly ball led to two more runs, and Todd Jahnke added an RBI single for an 8-3 advantage. Malawy’s two-run single upped the margin to 10-3, and Bultman’s second RBI of the inning capped the outburst.
“We didn’t play our typical good Nashville baseball, but fortunately for us, our bats kept us in the game,” Hornets coach Chad Malawy said.
HERRIN — Harrisburg rallied big in the fifth and sixth innings to go home with a 9-5 victory over Herrin in prep softball on Monday.
So did their pitcher. After falling behind 3-0 in the third, righty Todd Jahnke (6-1) retired 11 of the last 12 men he faced to earn the win. Jahnke was efficient in that stretch, using only 40 pitches to obtain his outs.
“Our pitcher settled down,” Malawy said. “It was just being ahead in the count, like any other baseball coach would tell you. They didn’t square up nearly as many balls off him as they did earlier.”
Du Quoin (11-10, 5-4) didn’t exactly spray line drives all over the field off Jahnke when it was scoring runs, but it made contact and it executed well in a couple of situations to build its early lead.
Catcher Nick Depyatic fought off a pitch on his fists and muscled a two-out bloop single to left-center that initiated scoring in the second. It was the capper of a great inning for Depyatic, who helped squelch a two-on, none-out threat by picking a runner off second.
An inning later, the Indians made it 3-0. Alex Zimmerman stroked a hit-and-run single up the middle with Alec Caldwell breaking from second that scored him easily. Brian Winters made it to third, then rode home when Owen Bradley produced a sacrifice fly.
Bradley’s ability to tightrope out of trouble defined his five innings on the mound. He stranded 10 runners during his stint, limiting the Hornets to two hits in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. But he needed 100 pitches to get his 15 outs, forcing Geiger to go to the bullpen earlier than he might have wanted.
“I don’t think he threw the ball badly today, but he had a lot of deep counts that upped the pitch count,” Geiger said. “We’re trying to get as much as we can out of our starters. And we didn’t get much defensively.”
CARTERVILLE — Their opponents came in hot, riding a 13-game winning streak and sole possession of first place.
While Du Quoin lamented things it didn’t do, Nashville secured its 11th straight 20-win season. This one is notable, considering how late about half the team started its season after playing for a Class 2A basketball title in early March.
“We just love winning and hate losing like any other program,” Malawy said. “If you had told me we’d be 20-3 at the beginning of the season, I would have taken that.”
The Hornets host conference co-leader Carterville Tuesday, the winner guaranteed no worse than a share of the title. The Lions won the teams' first meeting last week 5-2 in Carterville.