Rain and thunderstorms threatened throughout the afternoon and into the evening Monday, but in Coal City, the rain held off just long enough for eight innings of baseball as Coal City hosted the Seneca in Interstate Eight conference play.
After giving up a run to the visitors in the top of the eighth, it was Coal City that prevailed, 5-4, pushing across a pair of runners in its half of the inning to improve to 10-9.
The loss dropped the Fighting Irish to 8-14.
“They had their ace – one of the better pitchers in the area--on the mound and we were playing right with them,” Seneca coach Kirk Houchin said. “Earlier in the season we weren’t competing with pitchers and teams like that, so that’s a positive.”
Seneca was able to jump out to a quick lead as freshman leadoff hitter Hunter Simon drew a walk to start the game.
Three batters later, cleanup hitter Austin Applebee’s infield single drove in Simon. Applebee would also scored after a pair of Coal City errors to give Seneca the 2-0 advantage.
Coal City was able to cut that lead in half in its portion of the first when sophomore pitcher Brad Littleton helped his own cause with an RBI single. Littleton got a no-decision, but finished the day 3 for 4 at the plate.
In the third inning, Coal City was able to seize the lead with RBI singles from D.J. Budde and Joe Quinn. However, Seneca responded with a two-out RBI double from Lars Pihl in the fifth that tied the score at 3.
A leadoff single by pinch-hitter Luke Sohan to lead off the eight inning would eventually turned into a run on a pair of Coal City errors that occurred on the same play three batters later.
“We can put up with an error, but those were as routine as you can get,” Coal City coach Jerry McDowell said. “The kids did a nice job bouncing back, we just got to get better under pressure.”
Coal City responded when sophomore catcher Matt Gubelman led off with his first career varsity hit, a single up the middle. Four batters later, a bases loaded walk by Joe Quinn scored Gubelman’s courtesy runner Tanner Hanley, to tie the score. With the bases still jammed, a wild pitch scored Lane Cowherd to win the game for the Coalers.