WENONA – Ask anyone affiliated with the Fieldcrest baseball program and they’d probably say collectively they’re getting tired of running into Eureka every state tournament series.
For the fifth straight spring, the Hornets sent the Knights to the sidelines. The latest was the May 18 regional final by a 10-0 score at the middle school. The game was halted in the sixth inning because of the 10-run rule.
The Eureka offense was held in check through three before the Hornets (24-7) went to work in the fourth. Daniel Frank led off and hit a drive that clanked off the top of the left field fence and bounced over for a solo homer. That began a four-run uprising to extend the Eureka lead to 5-0.
“If we were able to keep it close early, we had a chance,” stated Fieldcrest coach Mark Brown. “When they started scoring in the fourth and fifth, it’s a steep hill to climb.
“I liked where we were at early,” he continued. “I thought our at-bats were good. We had an early chance against (Brady) Krile, but missed an opportunity. Once they got a run, they would be tough to catch up.”
Zac Messer added a run-scoring single in the fourth. Ten Hornets batted in the fifth, five of whom scored. Adam Anderson’s single knocked in one in the fifth.
In the top of the first, Michael Morse led off with a single, but he was picked off of first by Krile. Derek May followed with a single, but he was left stranded at first.
After that, Krile (10-0) settled in and allowed just two Fieldcrest baserunners over his five and two-thirds frame on the mound.
“His fastball was coming in hotter than usual,” Eureka coach Dane Wear said. “When we took the lead, he was able to relax.”
Morse had half of the Knights’ four hits.
In the sixth, Austin Davis walked, stole second and came in on an Anderson double to trigger the 10-run rule.
Koy Allen (5-3) held the Hornets down the first time through the order, but could not the second time around. He allowed six hits and eight runs (seven earned) over four and a third. He walked three and struck out seven.
The regional title is the fifth under Wear, but first won as a true road game.
“We know Coach Brown really well. Great guy, solid ballclub,” Wear said. “We just knew it was going to be tough with them on their home field and with their crowd, kind of like it was last year with Tremont.”
Although Fieldcrest (12-10) came up on the short end to Eureka again, Brown is still fueled to find a way to get over the hump against their Heart of Illinois Conference rivals.
“No ‘cuz I want to beat them,” said Brown when asked if Eureka should be sent a different direction for the postseason. “We’ve been knocking on the door the last couple years. Hopefully, our seniors have laid a good foundation for our younger guys to step up and try to break through.”