Janesville Legion falls in home finale
JANESVILLE--The top of the sixth inning fueled Jarrett Druding—physically and mentally.
The starting pitcher for the Beloit American Legion baseball team had been scraping and clawing all night, but he was down four runs to rival Janesville Post 205.
Thanks to a couple of costly errors, Beloit batted around in the sixth. It piled up five runs, and Druding slammed the door from there in a 7-4 victory at Riverside Park.
“I was a little shaky at first, just knowing I’m down 4-0 to our rivals,” said Druding, who struck out 11 and walked just one. “But once we had that big sixth inning, it was so much easier to calm down. The guys had my back.”
Janesville fell to 18-11 in their final home game of the season.
It lost to Beloit for the third time this season.
“We’ve lost by three every time—8-5, 7-4 and 7-4,” Janesville coach Bob Schenck said. “And we had 18 errors in those three games. You just can’t do that.”
Post 205 looked comfortable early on.
Shortstop Justin Graham led off the first inning with a single and scored. With one out in the third inning, outfielder Logan Coulter blasted an RBI triple to the right-field wall and scored on Will Theisen’s single. And in the fourth, right fielder Richie Burkheimer led off with a bloop single to center and scored on Ryan Cashore’s two-out double to the right-field gap.
Momentum began to shift in the bottom of the fifth, however, when Druding retired the side in order on just seven pitches. He had thrown 63 in the first four innings.
Then the recent Beloit Memorial graduate got an extended rest in the top of the sixth. Designated hitter Patrick Whalen reached base on an error to start the inning, setting the tone for a disastrous inning for Janesville.
Beloit’s first five batters all reached base and scored, and they capitalized on five hits and three Janesville errors to take the lead.
“Walks and errors have been the story of our season,” Schenck said. “We’re not going to beat the good teams when we do that.”
Colin Frey was the tough-luck loser for Janesville despite throwing five sharp innings. Just two of his five runs allowed were earned.
Meanwhile, Druding found a groove. He allowed one runner in the sixth, shut down the side in order on six pitches in the seventh and got out of a jam with runners on first and third and nobody out in the eighth.
“I threw seven pitches going into that sixth inning, and then batting around gave me a lot of time to rest,” Druding said. “It feels good, because it’s probably going to be us and them for the regional and the right to go to state.”
Beloit tacked on a pair of unearned insurance runs in the seventh. Orfordville Parkview grad Nolan Strzok finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Janesville is back in action today at 7 p.m. at Genoa City.