DWIGHT – Both the hosting Dwight and Coal City baseball teams opened up the Interstate Eight Conference schedule Friday afternoon. Playing in idyllic weather conditions, both teams battled before the Coalers outlasted the Trojans, 6-3.
Similar to the way that the wind was blowing out to right at the onset of the game and then died down over the last couple of innings, the contest itself seemed to switch tones likewise.
After a single by D.J. Budde, Coal City got a two-run homer from Joe Quinn in the second inning against Trojans starting pitcher Chance Carlson and added another in the third on an RBI single by Alex Wills scoring Lane Cowherd (walk). But that was it for the scoring through the first five innings.
“Joey Quinn really hit that ball well,” Coal City coach Jerry McDowell said. “He’s coming around for us.”
At the same time, two things were happening to help keep the score right there through five. Dwight’s defense was solid, especially on the infield, and Coal City starter Brad Littleton (3-0) was on his game.
“Chris Peck at shortstop is doing an unbelievable job ... I think that was his fifth double play that he was involved in already this season in just two weeks,” Dwight coach Justin Stevenson said. “The gloves have actually been really awesome for us this season. We did have a few breakdowns the past couple of games but the gloves have been good. We’ve played good defense we just haven’t been able to hit the ball the last couple of games.
A lot of that had to do with Littleton. The sophomore went five innings allowing three hits while walking two, hitting a batter and striking out seven.
“Littleton threw the ball nice today. He was working quick and got things going. He was getting quick outs. A lot of first pitch, second pitch outs,” McDowell said. “This is the longest he has gone this year. He has gone four but he was able to stretch it out to five today. He threw about 88 pitches. We are happy with the way he performed today.”
Just like the change in the wind speed, though, the game also changed quickly.
“Over the last two innings, the game tightened up a little bit,” McDowell said. “They got runners on and we were being cautious and the defense got lax there in a couple of situations.”
Stevenson said the Trojans were glad to see the Coalers switch pitchers from Littleton to Jared Skubic.
“They changed pitchers and (Skubic) was more of a guy we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks,” he said. “We haven’t seen much like their first pitcher. Nobody who has thrown quite that hard yet. That was some of it, but we were finally able to put the ball into play.”
Dwight scored in the fifth on a double by Ryan Gaston and an error and Coal City put up three runs in the top of the fifth. That all led to a whirlwind finish in the seventh, where Dwight scored twice with the game ending after a runner was picked off of first.
Both teams are 5-5 on the season.
“We’re happy to come out of here with a win,” McDowell concluded.