It took a little extra effort, but the Shelbyville Rams (24-3) had it as they advanced to the Teutopolis Sectional title game with a win over Harrisburg in eight innings, 3-2.
The Rams have rolled through the season, claiming an undisputed Okaw Valley Conference championship, then cruising to a Tuscola Regional title. But as the postseason progresses the sledding gets a little tougher. Against Harrisburg, the Rams had to come up with a little extra and they did it.
It wasn't just the extra effort in the 8th to get the winning run, it was extra effort from starter Eli Miller and extra effort and a heads-up play by Caleb Eloe at 3rd.
"I've seen Eli pitch for five years and it was his best game ever," said Ram coach Sam Mehl. "He had one walk, one hit batter in six innings and struck out nine against a good hitting team."
Harrisburg had a 2-run 3rd inning and the Rams were scoreless. They didn't answer right away, but and inning later they did, with their own 2-run spurt. Two men were on for lead-off man Eli Miller and he brought them home with a single to tie the game.
Harrisburg had spent their magazine in the 3rd. Thanks to the Ram pitching and defense that held them in check. The Rams, however, had one in the chamber.
The teams were tied at the end of regulation 2-2 through seven innings. Senior Andrew Hawkins (10-1) came on in the 7th to try to close out Harrisburg.
It didn't start well. Harrisburg needed just one run for the win and the first two batters reached base and were at 2nd and 3rd. The infield came in to try to keep the run from scoring on a ground ball. He hit a ground ball. The runner couldn't score from 3rd, but the batter was safe, loading the bases with no outs.