EUREKA – Shades of the East Peoria game seeped out of the cracks on the Eureka baseball squad on April 17.
The Heart of Illinois Conference hosts were limited to just one hit and two baserunners in a 1-0 loss to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at the middle school.
Eureka was no-hit on April 6 by the Raiders.
It appeared history might repeat itself for the Hornets (18-6, 8-2), who did not get somebody aboard until the bottom of the fifth.
“I never think of that stuff. I’m the last person to think about that,” commented Eureka coach Dane Wear. “I’m on the other side of it. I’m thinking with the wind blowing out, one of my boppers might hit one out.”
Keegan Zimmerman reached on an error in the fifth and one batter later Matt Martin got the hosts’ only hit with a single to right field. However, both runners were stranded.
GCMS (15-3, 8-1) starter Nathan Garard held a potent Eureka offense in check. The right-hander fanned each of the nine batters once and totaled 14 and no walks. He threw 89 pitches, 65 of which were strikes.
“He’s good,” Wear said. “He’s been around for a while. He’s as advertised. There’s no doubt why they’re (12-3). They’re a good team.”
The lone run was recorded in the top of the third. Garard deliver a two-out single to center to score his younger brother, Ethan Garard, who led off the inning with a walk. That was one of five issued by Eureka’s Aaron Schwab (4-1), who showed the effects of going over two weeks from his last start.
Schwab was effectively wild, as only 49 of his 92 pitches were strikes. But, he held down an offense that came in averaging 9.6 runs per game to one.
“His velo (velocity) was a little down,” admitted Wear. “We’ve only been able to get him into a couple games. He knew he did not have his best stuff. He battled. He knew he has a good defense behind him.”
The defense aided Schwab in the second. A fly ball headed for the left center gap was caught by Martin in left. With a runner on first that probably have produced a run.
Of the nine batters in the GCMS order, four bats from the left side.
“Early in the season, that was our Achilles’ heel,” pointed out Wear. “We did not see that many. Lately, we’ve been facing some teams to get ready for it. We did a nice job.”
The four lefties were a combined zero for 11.