Beloit Turner beats Tide, rain
It came with a 3-1 victory over Rock Valley rival Edgerton (16-7) in a Division 2 championship showdown that went down to the wire.
A nearby thunder clap and Edgerton senior Kyle Johnson standing at first greeted Austin Andrews as he moved from shortstop to the mound with no one out in the top of the seventh. After Zach Nelson was retired at first on a grounder, the impromptu closer struck out Trevor Kinnett and Cody Anderson with a devastating power curve that disappeared out of the strike zone.
Turner catcher Jordan Conway met an ecstatic Andrews halfway and the team (18-5) joined in to celebrate its berth in the Evansville Sectional.
“I can’t explain the feeling,” Andrews said. “I’m just filled with too many emotions.”
Moments after the Trojans were able to snap a team picture, the wind gusted, and the heavens started to gush. That scattered players, coaches and hangers-on alike, fitting the theme of the game.
Top-seeded Turner’s senior ace, Aaron Jones, worked six-plus innings to get the win, scattering 11 hits, including Johnson’s opposite-field leadoff single on the first pitch of the seventh—which was Jones’ 93rd of the game.
Jones didn’t allow a run until Jordan Hammer drove in Nolan Richardson with an RBI fielder’s choice in the sixth, getting the Crimson Tide within two.
“Aaron Jones trusts his team,” Turner coach Ryan Bertselsen said. “He’s a great pitcher, but the fact that he trusts his defense makes him even better.”
Jones was an escape artist, getting out of a jam with runners at second and third with no one out in the third. Tyler Oren put two into scoring position with a double in the left-center alley, but Jones got the next three in order.
He also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth. That Houdini-like effort was capped by a bona fide web gem from first baseman Bobby Hall. The leadoff-batting Oren—who went 3-for-4—fouled a 2-2 pitch that the left-handed Hall tracked into foul territory before laying out to make an eye-popping, inning-ending catch.
“And it’s plays like that one that let Aaron trust his defense and pitch to contact,” Bertelsen finished.
Turner was out-hit 11-3, and Bryant Schulte took the tough-luck complete-game loss that took just 77 pitches.
The Edgerton left-hander was the victim of two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs that gave Turner a 2-0 lead in the third. But his second walk came back to haunt him when Adam Mikkelsen doubled down the left-field line to score Athoni Jacobs in the fourth.
The lanky Mikkelsen showed good hands to keep the low, inside pitch fair.
“I’m a pull hitter most of the time, so that’s a pitch I can handle,” Mikkelsen said.
“That insurance run was huge,” Andrews said. “He hasn’t played all that much this season, and he stepped up big-time.”
Andrews, who usually makes his hay gunning out runners from all angles with his cannon-like arm at shortstop, shut the door by locating his blistering fastball. When he went the yacker, it was no contest.
“I have a pretty good curveball, but I didn’t expect it to be that good,” Andrews said. “It really keeps them off balance.”
Turner faces the winner of today’s Lakeside Lutheran/Edgewood game in the sectional semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Evansville. In reaching that point, the Trojans avenged an 8-4 loss to Edgerton in last year’s regional finals and a 3-2 loss to the Crimson Tide in this year’s only regular-season meeting.
Such a gutsy win came as little surprise to Andrews.
“Our guys have a ton of heart,” he said. “There isn’t a guy on the team who doesn’t love baseball with a passion.”
TURNER 3, EDGERTON 1
Edgerton (ab-r-h-rbi)—Oren, 3b, 4-0-3-0; AGregory, 2b, 4-0-0-0; Johnson, c, 4-0-1-0; Nelson, cf, 4-0-1-0; Kinnett, ss, 4-0-1-0; Anderson, rf, 4-0-2-0; Richardson, 1b, 2-1-1-0; CGregory, dh, 3-0-1-0; Hammer, lf, 2-1-0-1. Totals: 33-1-11-1.
Turner (ab-r-h-rbi)—Conway, c, 3-1-0-0; Burns, 2b, 2-0-0-0; Jones, p, 3-0-0-0; Bernstein, cf, 3-0-1-0; Jensen, rf, 3-0-0-0; Hall, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Reece, lf, 3-0-1-0; Jacobs, 3b, 1-1-0-0; Mikkelsen, ss, 1-1-1-1. Totals: 22-3-3-1.
Edgerton 000 001 0—1
Turner 002 100 0—3
E— Edgerton 2, Beloit Turner 1. LOB—Edgerton 11, Beloit Turner 2. 2B—Oren, Nelson, Bernstein, Mikkelsen.
IP H R ER BB SO
Schulte (L) 6 3 3 1 2 1
Jones (W) 6 11 1 1 3 1
Andrews (S) 1 0 0 0 0 2
Last updated: 2:12 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012