COAL CITY — Friday’s Interstate Eight Conference baseball game between Coal City and Dwight was a confluence of opposite extremes. While the common denominator was that it was the league opener for the two teams, the 10-0 lopsided win in five innings by the Coalers may be explained in the simplest of ways.
“We’ve played ball for four days in a row now and, having 11 of 12 guys on the team, we’ve just got a depleted pitching staff,” Dwight coach Ryan Kemp said.
Coal City took advantage of eight walks and a hit batsman in the first two innings in bolting to an 8-0 lead, then cruising in with the run-rule shortened game.
“The kids did a good job of laying off the high pitches and they took their walks today,” Coal City coach Jerry McDowell said. “The kids looked composed at the plate today and were swinging at strikes.”
At least when they were swinging.
“We were patient at the plate. We did a good job of that,” Coal City leadoff hitter Austin McLuckie said. “In that situation, you have to wait for your pitch. Get a 2-0 count and if you get your pitch, it’s yours. For the most part, the value for us tonight was that we waited and got our pitch.”
After Alex Wills sent Dwight down in order in the top of the first, McLuckie walked to get Coal City going. After stealing second and one out later, Nate Natyshok walked. One out later, Lane Cowherd walked to load the bases and Nate Chapman cleared the bases with a double. Brennen Shetina followed that with a single to put runners on the corners before a wild pitch advanced both.
In the bottom of the second, the Coalers scored four more.
McLuckie walked and stole second again before Joey Quinn singled him in. Quinn went to second on the play on an error and a wild pitch sent him to third. Dylan Hakey walked to put runners on the corners before Cowherd reached on an error to load the bases. Chapman then walked for an RBI, Shetina hit into a 5-2 fielder’s choice and Joe Micetich was hit by a pitched ball to finish the scoring in the frame.
Coal City go the final two runs of the game in the third inning with the big hit being a double off the bat of Hakey.
On the other side, Dwight managed just four hits on offense, which was disappointing to Kemp, especially since the Trojans had just scored 20 times the night before.
“That was the biggest disappointment,” Kemp said. “We didn’t hit the ball like we can. It was a little windy and a bit chilly, but we still should have hit a lot better than we did.”
A lot of that had to do with the Coalers’ pitching, as well. As a team, Coal City recorded five strikeouts and didn’t walk anyone.
“Alex Wills did a nice job,” McDowell said. “He hit his spots and making his pitches. We also played good defense. Our pitching a defense were key today.”
While Dwight has just been through the scheduling ringer, the I-8 opener is just the first of nine games the Coalers will play in the next eight days.
“It’s nice to start the conference season this way,” McDowell said. “We’re starting to play better now that we’ve gotten outside more. We need games like today to help get us going.”
“We’re definitely glad to start out with a win,” he said. “It gives us a lot of confidence. I think with all these games in a row coming up that it’s always good to win that first one.”