John Curtis Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — "Heigh-ho the derry-o" the Rams stand alone. The Shelbyville Rams baseball team (19-2, 7-1 OVC) stands alone atop the Okaw Valley Conference after they beat Argenta on Wednesday, 3-1.
The Rams took out Tuscola on Tuesday, 7-0, and went into the showdown on Wednesday with the other first place team in the conference, Argenta-Oreana.
Andrew Hawkins (9-1) as the Rams #1 ace took the hill in the all-important game. He went into the 7th inning, giving up just 1 run on a solo homer in the 7th. He allowed five hits, walked just one and struck out two. Starter Eli Miller came on in the 7th to get the save. allowing no runs, no hits no walks and striking out one.
Argenta out hit the Rams 6 to 3, but it was the six AO errors that shot them in the foot. The key to the game was Ram defense and the Rams putting the ball in play and challenging the AO fielders, who cracked. The Rams took advantage for three unearned runs.
"Defense has been the thing for us," said Ram coach Sam Mehl. "We didn't have any errors the last two games. As a pitcher, it makes you feel confident to throw strikes. Andrew only had two strikeouts in six innings. The defense has been the big thing for us, from Neil (Yockey) and Jake (Keown) up the middle and Caleb (Eloe) at 3rd."
Eloe threw three batters out and caught a pop up. Yockey threw a batter out and caught a pop up. Keown snagged a pop up. Miller caught back-to-back fly balls in center and Luke Hatfield had two catches in right. Hawkins threw a batter out and snagged a line drive.
The Rams pushed the base runners along and scored when the door was left open.
In the 3rd inning with two outs, Miller singled. He advanced to 2nd on an error and then stole 3rd. Miller raced home on a passed ball before a strikeout ended the Ram at bat, 1-0.
In the 5th inning, Hawkins helped himself, putting the ball in play and reaching on a 3rd base error. Two ground outs moved him along to 3rd, then Caleb Eloe drew a walk. Hawkins scored another unearned run, 2-0.
In the 6th, again the first two Ram batters were put out. Nate Standerfer drew a walk. Neil Yockey singled to left and the fielder booted the ball for extra bases. Standerfer scored for a 3-0 unearned run lead. Hawkins put the ball in play again and reached on a 3rd base error, before a strikeout ended that Ram at bat.
In the 7th, Hawkins gave up a lead-off home run. He hit the next batter and walked the following hitter. With no outs and two on Miller, who is another starter, came in to pitch. Miller has had early control problems in some starts, but he was perfect out of the gate as a closer.
Miller got a ball back to the mound and threw out the first batter he faced. On another ball back to the mound, Miller threw home and Garrett Manship tagged out the man from 3rd trying to sneak home. Miller smelled the save with two straight outs. He rang up the next batter, the top of the order, on just four pitches.
Shelbyville 3, Argenta 1
Shelby 001 011 0--3-3-0
AO 000 000 1--1-6-6
Ram stats: Miller 1-for-4, SB, run;Keown 0-for-3; Hatfield 0-for-3; Standerfer 0-for-2, BB, run; Yockey 2-for-3; Hawkins 0-for-3, 2 ROE, run; McConnell 0-for-3; Manship 0-for-3; Eloe 0-for-2, BB. Pitching (W) Hawkins (9-1) 6 IP, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 BB, 2 Ks; (Save) Miller 1 IP, 0 runs, 0 hits. 0 BBs, 1 K.
AO stats: Witts 1-for-4; Eller 0-for-3; McHood 0-for-3; Jackson 1-for-3, HR, run, RBI; Hupp 2-for-2, SB, HBP; Brown 0-for-2, BB; Ferrill 0-for-3; Parker 1-for-3, FC. Pitching (L) McHood 7 IP, 3 runs (0 ER), 3 hits, 2 BBs, 6 Ks.
On Tuesday, Caleb Eloe (2-0), who came into the season with a broken arm, was back on the hill for his second win. Eloe notched the complete game, shutout over seven innings. He threw a 3-hitter, walking two, hitting one, and striking out seven. With Eloe back the Ram pitching staff boasts four pitchers with dominant winning records.
After giving up back-to-back fly balls in the 1st, Eloe hit a batter and walked on, then dug deep and rang up the following man. The Ram hitters then gave him a quick lead.
Miller led off with a single and, with one out, Luke Hatfield hammered his 10th home run of the season for a 2-0 lead. Eloe got the first Tuscola batter to pop up, then rang up the second man. He gave up a double, but got another batter to pop out. The Rams went in order in the 2nd. Eloe rang up the first batter in the 3rd. A single was followed by two ground outs.
The Rams charged into the 3rd. Eloe helped himself with a lead-off double. Miller walked and stole 2nd. Keown jacked a sacrifice fly. Hatfield walked and stole 2nd. Standerfer reached on an error and drove in a run. Neil Yockey hit the second double fo the inning and drove in two more runs. Hawkins launched a sacrifice fly scoring sending in another run, 8-0 Rams.
Eloe and the Rams retired Tuscola in order in the 4th, 5th, and 6th with three more strikeouts. Each outfielder made a play, Yockey gunned down two batters from short and Eloe threw one out. The Rams didn't get any more hits in the 4th, 5th, and 6th, but did get four walks and had two guys plunked by the pitcher.
In the top of the 7th, Eloe gave up a lead-off single and a walk. Hawkins made a double play, catching a line-out at 3rd and throwing to Keown covering 2nd for the double play. Emboldened, Eloe struck out the last man on three pitches.
Shelbyville 7, Tuscola 0
T'cola 000 000 0--0-3-1
Shelby 205 000 x--7-4-0
Ram stats: Miller 1-for-2, 2 BBs, SB, 2 runs; Keown 0-for-2, BB, sac, RBI; Hatfield 1-for-1, 2R HR, BB, 2 HBP, SB, run, 2 RBIs; Standerfer 0-for-4, ROE, run, RBI; Yockey 1-for-3, 2B, run, 2 RBIs; Hawkins 0-for-2, sac RBI; McConnell 0-for-3; Manship 0-for-3, Eloe 1-for-1, 2B, 2 BB, SB, run. Pitching (W) Eloe (2-0) 7 IP, 0 runs, 3 hits, 2 BBs, 1 HBP, 7 Ks.
T'cola stats: Yoakum 0-for-3; Watson 1-for-3; Walsh 0-for-2, HB, FC; Williams 0-for-2, BB; Bates 1-for-3; Westjohn 0-for-2, BB; Rose 0-for-3; Martin 1-for-3, 2B; Cochenour 0-for-2. Pitching (L) Walsh 3 2/3 IP, 7 runs (6 ER), 4 hits, 4 BBs, 2 K.