After upsetting the No. 1 seed Marion County in the Class 1, District 11 semifinals, the Community R-VI baseball team was hoping a second straight appearance in the district finals would have a different result when they took on Silex.
The Trojans held a one run lead and appeared set to win the title as they had a 6-1 record when they had the lead after the second inning.
Unfortunately, the Owls offense hit three home runs and scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat the Trojans 12-2, ending Community R-VI’s season.
While Community R-VI’s pitching and defense was pretty solid for 11 straight district innings, the Trojans gave up three home runs and the defense committed four errors during an 11-run, three inning stretch in the Silex loss.
“We came out a little bit on fire,” said Community R-VI Brandon Talbot. “…One of our goals was to win the first two innings.”
Silex jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the first inning off Trojans’ starting pitcher Collin Dungan.
Two batters later there was a testy exchange between Coach Talbot and the home plate umpire after the umpire assumed Dungan was complaining about a pitch call.
The heated exchange was followed by a pop out to centerfield and the runner at second base tagging too soon on the catch as an umpire check was confirmed to give the Trojans a double play.
Dungan’s teammates picked him up in their next at-bat as they scored two runs to take the lead.
In the top of the second inning, Matt Gastler started the frame with a single, Cordell Hollensteiner drew a walk, and Levi Rafferty followed with a single.
With the bases loaded, Gage Graves hit a two-RBI double.
Silex hit into a second double play in the bottom of the second inning as a runner was doubled off at third base after a brilliant diving catch by centerfielder Hollensteiner.
A third double play happened in Silex’s third straight at-bat as a dropped third strike led to an out at first and a issue with the runner at third base caused a second out.
Silex broke through against Dungan in the fourth inning as they started the inning with a solo home run. An RBI single gave them a 3-2 lead.
The Owls added three more runs in the fifth inning as two back-to-back doubles were followed by a two-run home run by Joe Martin. It was Martin’s second home run of the game.
Dungan was chased after tossing 4 1/3 innings and allowing six earned runs on 10 hits with three strikeouts.
Gatlin Curtis entered the game and got two quick outs to get out of the inning.
Meanwhile, the Trojans offense went three-up and three-down in four straight innings.
It appeared the Trojans would get an easy inning in the sixth as an error was followed by a fourth double play.
Then things fell apart for the Trojans as Curtis walked a batter and made a throwing error before a Silex two-RBI single.
Two more straight errors led to two more runs, that were followed by an infield single and a balk to score one run.
Another walk was followed by a runner getting caught in a run down between first and second. The Trojans’ defense lost track of the runner at third base, who scored a run to end the game with the 10-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The loss meant it was the final game for seniors Anthony Fairchild, Gage Graves, Collin Dungan, Jamie Householder, and Gatlin Curtis.
Talbot said he was thankful for how Fairchild and Graves helped the squad “immensely.” He especially noted Graves’ outstanding performance in districts.
Talbot also recognized Householder for his effort in catching countless innings behind the plate during his career. He also pointed out the importance of Dungan and Curtis for the job they did eating up innings with time on the mound this past season.
Upsetting Marion County
In the district semifinals, the Trojans rode the arm of pitcher Matt Gastler, who tossed a complete game and allowed just two runs on two hits with three strikeouts in a 4-3 upset win over Marion County.
“I was very proud of the way the boys played last night,” Talbot said. “Matt Gastler gave us two great performances in two complete games. It’s a lot to ask from a sophomore but he’s been our ace all year and he has really stepped it up at districts. We did commit errors but we would make the next play and not let it hurt us. Our goal was to score first and put the pressure on them and that’s what we accomplished in the top of the first inning. Once we gave Matt the lead he did the rest. He kept them off balance and for the most part kept getting soft ground ball outs. The boys came out disciplined at the plate and we got hits to back em up right out of the gate. To have that fire in the first inning they let everyone know they came to play. It’s good to see their hard work paying off for them in the playoffs.”
The Trojans scored all four of their runs in the first inning as Gastler, Hollensteiner, and Rafferty each had RBI singles and Graves added an RBI.
Talbot did say when Gastler is on the mound, it gave his team the best chance to win because it helped defensively with Dungan and Curtis both in the field.