John Curtis Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Shelby battled at 3A Mt. Zion on Wednesday and didn't give up any earned runs, but were still undone, 4-3.
"Mt. Zion is 3A and one of the best teams in the area and they always have really good pitching," said Ram coach Sam Mehl.
The Rams had four errors. Two of them occurred in the 3-run Mt. Zion 4th and one of them was in the bottom of the 7th.
"We made quite a few defensive mistakes," Mehl said. "I told them, if we correct that, we can beat anybody. It was a frustrating game, because we could have won. We played hard and it's hard not to be happy with the way the kids played and battled and still had an opportunity to win."
Eli Miller started for the Rams and was in control. He went six innings and allowed just three hits, with no walks. He hit two batters, but they didn't figure in the scoring. He struck out five batters. Andrew Hawkins (3-0) came on in the 7th with the score tied 3-3.
Hawkins gave up a hit. That was no problem, but then the Rams booted a bunt play. Mt. Zion bunted again and the Rams couldn't make the play. The bases were suddenly loaded with no outs in a tie game. Hawkins responded by striking out the next batter. He got the next guy to pop out. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 7th, Hawkins got the batter to hit a routine ground ball. But another Ram error allowed the batter to reach 1st and the runner on 3rd to score for the walk-off error win.
Shelby scored first, as Jake Keown drew a 1-out walk and stole 2nd. With two outs, Nate Standerfer came through again with an RBI-single, 1-0 Rams. A dropped 3rd strike and another error let two Mt. Zion runners on in the 2nd, but Miller threw a strikeout, caught a line drive, and Keown threw out the last batter, 2nd to 1st.
Miller had a single in the 2nd and Hawkins a single in the 3rd, but both were stranded. In the Mt. Zion 3rd, Keown threw out a batter, Yockey threw a batter out, and Hatfield caught a fly out to retire Mt. Zion in order.
In the top of the 4th, Hatfield led off with a single and, with one out, Neil Yockey reached on the only Mt. Zion error. Hawkins followed with a hit. Hatfield scored, but Mt. Zion got a double play, 2nd to 1st to home. Shelby was up 2-0, but it could have been more.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Miller tried to protect the lead, but things didn't go his way. He threw out the first batter, then gave up back-to-back hits. An error in right field scored a run. An error at home scored another run, tying the game. With two outs, another single scored a third run, 3-2 Mt. Zion.
Both teams had solo base runners in the 5th, but they were stranded. In the 6th with two outs, the Rams knotted the score. Yockey drew a walk and Hawkins launched an RBI-triple, 3-3.
Miller retired Mt. Zion in order in the 6th. A fly out to Hendryx in right was followed by Hawkins throwing a batter out, 3rd to 1st. Miller struck out the third batter. Shelby also went down in order in the top of the 7th. Then came the Ram faux pas that spelled "close but no cigar."
Shelbyville (6-1) play at the Clinton Tourney on Saturday.
Mt. Zion 4, Shelbyville 3
Shelby 100 101 0--3-6-4
Mt. Zion 000 300 1--4-4-1
Ram stats: Miller 1-for-4; Keown 0-for-2, BB, run; Hatfield 1-for-3, run; Standerfer 1-for-2, RBI; Yockey 0-for-2, BB, run; Hawkins 3-for-3, 3B, RBI; Manship 0-for-3; McConnell 0-for-3; Peifer 0-for-2, BB. Pitching (L) Hawkins (3-1) 2/3 IP, 1 run (0 ER), 1 hit 0 BBs, 1 K; (Starter) Miller 6 IP, 3 runs (0 ER), 3 hits, 0 BBs, 2 HB, 5 Ks.
MZ stats: Dunn 1-for-4, ROE; Bruce 0-for-3, FC, HBP; Wilhoit 0-for-4; Geisler 0-for-3, HBP; Flansher 1-for-4, D3K, ROE, run; Durand 1-for-3, ROE, run; Calhoun 0-for-3, ROE, run; Olson 0-for-3; Reynolds 2-for-3, run. Pitching (W) Durand 3 IP, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 BBs, 6 Ks; (Starter) Olson 4 IP, 2 runs, 5 hits, 1 BB, 3 Ks.