JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Okaw Valley (8-0) and Moulton baseball (7-1) met for the supremacy of Shelby County in Shelbyville on Saturday morning. The Rams won this edition of the competitive series, 4-0.
Even sound looking pipes can have imperceptible cracks that show up under pressure. In the pressure-cooker of Saturday's showdown, the undefeated Okaw Valley Timberwolves' cracks showed in the 6th-inning, giving the Moulton Rams needed insurance runs to secure the win.
It was a classic pitcher's duel between Shelby's Tylr Gottfriedt and Okaw's Garrett Fritz. Gottfriedt threw a 2-hitter over seven innings, walking three and striking out six. Fritz allowed just one earned run over six innings, giving up six hits and zero walks, while striking out eight.
Gottfriedt was the toughest pitcher Okaw had faced in their previously undefeated season. He and Fritz were in control of the game. It was other issues that tipped the scales.
It was a scoreless tie until the bottom of the 4th. Turner Pullen led off with a single by the 3rd baseman. Pullen stole 2nd. With one out, Pullen stole 3rd.
Gottfriedt then hit a soft fly down the right field line. The Okaw fielder had to hustle to make the catch, but was in a tough position to throw home. Pullen had tagged up and scored for the 1-0 lead. Brett Spears then laid down a bunt single, but was stranded.
Okaw had a shot in the 6th when Austin Harshman drew a lead-off walk. Sam Hagerman sacrificed Harshman into scoring position. Fritz came to the plate, but Gottfriedt won that showdown with a K. Okaw's leading hitter, Cody Drake, came up, but popped out to Pullen at 3rd to end the opportunity.
In the bottom of the 6th, Shelby got some wiggle room and made it count. Pullen hit his second single. He went to 2nd on a wild pitch.
Payton Howell was struck out by Fritz, but the ball was in the dirt and he took off for 1st on a possible dropped 3rd strike.
The catcher overthrew 1st, Pullen scored , and Howell ended up at 3rd. Okaw coach Chris Nichols argued that the ball was in the catcher's glove and not a dropped 3rd strike. He didn't win the argument.
Up 2-0, Howell then scored on a wild pitch, 3-0. Gottfriedt singled and the 1st four Rams had reached base. Gottfriedt stole 2nd. Fritz rang up the next batter.
Gottfriedt went to 3rd on a passed ball and when the throw went to 3rd, it got away and Gottfriedt scored, for a 4-0 lead.
Shelby had gotten past the most dangerous Okaw hitters, got a cushion and only had to shut down Okaw one more inning to get the win.
A ground out to 2nd baseman Mason Cameron and a fly out Malcolm Miller and Okaw was down to their last out. Hutson Dickens worked a walk, but the next batter hit to Cameron again for the ground out and the game.
Turner Pullen led all hitters. He reached base all three times. He was 2-for-3, stole two bases to set up the first run, and scored twice. He also reached on an error. Gottfriedt (1-for-3) not only got the win, but drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly and scored a run.
Shelby and Okaw had solid defense behind the pitchers, until the 6th inning Okaw faux pas.
Moulton 4, Okaw Valley 0
Okaw 000 000 0--0-2-3
Moulton 000 103 0--4-6-0
Ram stats: Miller 1-for-3; Martz 0-for-3, FC; Pullen 2-for-3, ROE, 2 SBs, 2 runs; Howell 0-for-3, ROE, run; Gottfriedt 1-for-2, sac fly, SB, run, RBI; Spears 1-for-3; Cameron 1-for-3, SB; Summers 0-for-3; Watson 0-for-2. Pitching (W) Gottfriedt 7 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks.
Okaw stats: Hill 0-for-2; Fritz 1-for-3; Harshman 1-for-2, BB, 2 SBs; Yarnell 0-for-2; Hagerman 0-for-2, sac; Dickens 0-for-2; Drake 0-for-3, FC, SB; Bunfill 0-for-3, FC; Coleman 0-for-3. Pitching (L) Fritz 6 IP, 4 runs (1 ER), 6 hits, 0 BB, 8 Ks.