JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Shelbyville Moulton (16-2), the #1 seed in the Sullivan Regional, couldn't figure out the LSA pitcher and went scoreless the first four innings. They finally knotted the game and Payton Howell tipped the scales for a 6-2 semifinal win.
LSA picked up two unearned runs in the first three innings and Shelby, for the most part, was popping out or getting rung up by curve balls once they faced a 3rd strike pitch.
The Rams were still facing a 2-0 deficit in the 5th and an early departure from the postseason. Daythan Summers got four straight balls from Carter and stole 2nd. Carter KO'd the next two guys and it looked like another scoreless inning for the Rams.
Mason Cameron drew a walk on 3-1. Summers went to 3rd on a wild pitch and Cameron stole 2nd. Instead of popping up, Quinn Martz hit a ground ball and put pressure on the LSA fielder to make a play. The fielder bobbled the ball and Martz' speed beat the throw.
Summers scored and the throw went free. The speedy Cameron scored all the way from 2nd and tied the game, 2-2.
Carter opened the 6th with a laser double over the left fielder's head. Ram coach Sam Mehl brought Howell in from 3rd to pitch with yet another run in scoring position and no one out.
Howell threw three pitches for a strike out. He KO'd the next batter on four pitches. The following batter hit a 3-2 pitch back to Howell and he threw the batter out. Carter never moved from 2nd.
Howell led off the Ram 6th. He crushed the first pitch past the left fielder like a frozen rope and to the fence. Howell was held up at 2nd.
Tyler Gottfriedt laid down a perfect bunt. The pitcher couldn't get Howell going to 3rd and went to throw to 1st. The 1st baseman had charged and no one was at 1st. Everybody was safe.
Gottfriedt stole 2nd and Howell raced home on a passed ball, scoring without even a throw for a 3-2 lead. Gottfriedt went to 3rd and then scored on a balk call by the base umpire, 4-2.
Brett Spears made it to 1st on a dropped 3rd strike, still with no outs. Summers laid down a sacrifice bunt sending Spears to 2nd with one out.
Cade Watson launched a 0-1 pitch from Carter like rocket from Cape Kennedy over the left fielder's head for an RBI-triple, 5-2. Watson raced home on a passed ball and beat the catcher diving to the plate with the ball, 6-2.
Carter KO'd the next two batters, but the damage was done. Howell went back to the mound for the 7th.
Howell rang up the first batter on four pitches. He KO'd the second batter on four more pitches. He walked a batter, then ended the game one four more pitches, striking out 5 of 6 batters and throwing out the other one.
LSA got thier scores with little fanfare. LSA's first batter of the game walked, went to 2nd on a passed ball and ended up scoring after a sacrifice, 1-0.
In the 3rd, the first batter singled to the opposite field down the first base line and was almost thrown out at 1st by the right fielder.
The next batter tried to bunt the runner to 2nd, but Gottrfiedt, the Ram catcher picked up the ball and gunned down the runner at 2nd.
However, the runner on 1st stole 2nd. He stole 3rd on a delayed steal and when he should have been throw out at 3rd, the ball got away. No one backed up the throw and the runners cruised home, 2-0.
Shelbyville had just four hits and three of them came in the 4-run 6th, including Howell's double and Watsons' triple.
Shelybville (16-2) will play Windsor/Stew-Stras (11-5) on Monday for the Sullivan Regional Championship at 4:30 p.m.
Shelbyville 6, LSA 2
LSA 102 000 0--2-4-2
Shelby 000 024 x--6-4-1
Ram stats: Cameron 0-for-3, BB, SB, run; Martz 0-for-3, ROE, 2 RBIs; Pullen 1-for-3; Howell 1-for-3, 2B, run; Gottfriedt 1-for-2, BB, 2 SBs, run; Spears 0-for-2, BB, ROE, SB, run; Summers 0-for-1, BB sac, SB, run; Watson 1-for-3, 3B, run, RBI; Koonce 0-for-3. Pitching (W) Howell 2 IP, 0 runs, 0 hits, BB, 5 Ks; (Starter) Spears 3 IP, 2 runs, 2 hits, 2 BBs, 3 Ks; Martz 2 IP, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 BBs, K.
LSA stats: Pate 1-for-4, BB, run; Wilkerson 2 SBs, 0-for-2, sac, FC, run; Carter 1-for-2, BB, SB, 2B; Stark 0-for-3, ROE; Calendo 1-for-3, SB; Aubert 0-for-2, sac; Miller 0-for-2, BB. Pitching (L) Carter 6 runs, 4 hits, 4 BBs,