The combination of good pitching, timely hitting and a couple breaks is a standard recipe for winning baseball games. Gillespie followed it to a tee in winning the regional semi-final game Saturday afternoon. The third-seeded Indians rallied to get past number 2 seeded Staunton Bulldogs to win the semi-final matchup and earn a spot in the Regional Championship tonight.
After being defeated by Staunton twice this season, the Indians posted a victory when it meant the most. It was a breeze for the Indians as they posted 5 runs in the first inning and never looked back after that. The Indians toyed around with the Bulldogs a bit in the second inning as they let them get 3 runs across, but it was game on after that. The Indians went on to tack another 9 runs on before the end of the game while Staunton was only able to add 2 more, giving Gillespie a 14-5 victory and a bench in the Regional Championship match-up.
The Indians had no trouble at the plate as 7 players managed to combine for 13 hits. Chandler McDaniel led the team at the plate as he went 3 for 5 with a double and 4 RBIs. Eli Fox (2 for 3) and Evan Price (1 for 4, 2 RBIs) both managed to add doubles to the extra base hit column in Saturday’s matchup. Other hitters were: Bryce McKinney (2 for 5, 3 RBIs), Nick Price (2 for 5, 1 RBI), Blake Middleton (2 for 4, 3 RBIs), and Josh Balzraine (1 for 2).
The main factor the Indians were able to produce so many runs, other than the defensive errors, in the regional semi-final game was they were always in scoring position. A single inning didn’t pass where an Indian was not in scoring position. The Indians had 7 stolen bases in the afternoon. Bryce McKinney led the team as he tore the base paths up with 3 stolen bases. Colin Tieman, Evan Price, Jake Vogel, and Jake Reiniesch each had 1 stolen base as well.
The pitching came from Eli Fox, Blake Middleton, and Evan Price. Eli Fox started the game and lasted 3 innings as the Indians were leading 10-3 as Fox was retired from the game. Fox surrendered just 2 hits in the 3 innings, but gave up 3 runs. Fox also set down 4 Bulldogs on strikes and walked 5. Blake Middleton relieved Fox after the third inning. Middleton lasted 2 innings and gave up just 2 hits and 1 run as he fanned 3 batters and walked 1. Evan Price was brought in to close for the Indians as they were leading 10-4. Price gave up 1 hit, 1 run, 2 walks, and struck out 3. Eli Fox received the win for the Indians.
The Miners had 2 days off before returning to Welfare Park to face off against Jerseyville St. Francis in the Regional Championship, a place they have not been since 2008 where they were under the direction of Coach Peterson. The Miners head into the Regional Championship with a 10-6 record. With a victory Monday afternoon, the Indians will have won coach Jeremy Smith his first Regional Championship victory as a middle school coach. The plaque will accompany the Regional Championship plaque Coach Smith received last year as the Class of 2011 won him his first ever championship plaque as a coach.
UP NEXT: The Indians take on Jerseyville St. Francis tonight at 4:15pm at Welfare Park in Gillespie.