THS bball -- Jansen out

T-Town’s Cody Jansen is tagged out by Effingham’s Brayton Poland while trying to steal third base. The Shoes jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the Hearts rallied for a 4-3 win.

News Report Staff

Chris Fleener was hoping to get four innings from Bryce Lohman.

Effingham’s starting pitcher just wanted to give his team a chance to win.

Both got their wish Monday afternoon.

Lohman went the distance and the Hearts scored a run in the top of the seventh inning that gave them a come-from-behind 4-3 victory at Teutopolis.

After three innings, Effingham faced a daunting task. The Hearts trailed 3-0 and were facing Eric Kremer, T-Town’s ace and one of the top high school pitchers in the state.

But EHS took advantage of errors, the passed ball and a key two-out double to rally for the win and snap the Wooden Shoes’ eight-game winning streak.

But the day belonged to Lohman.

“He was outstanding,” EHS Coach Chris Fleener said. “After they scored a couple runs on him, his intensity actually picked up and he started throwing the ball better.”

“It was definitely the best game I’ve thrown this spring,” Lohman admitted. “The last three games I’ve pitched, things have started kicking in. I didn’t get flustered. I stayed focus and just stuck with my game.”

His “game” Monday was keeping his fastball away from the THS batters.

“I know they’re a good fastball hitting team, but I wasn’t getting my curve over,” the senior lefty added. “So I went with my fastball most of the time, but kept it away from them. I used my four-seam and two-seam fastball and threw the curve once in a while. I pitched to contact and let my fielders do the rest.”

Due to his pitch count, Lohman was facing his final batter in the seventh. Teutopolis had a runner on first with only one out. But on Lohman’s 103rd pitch, Drew Thoele hit a shot, but right at Effingham second baseman Parker Seachrist. He then tossed to shortstop Mason Hull at second, who relayed to first for the game-ending double play.

Early on, the Shoes looked like a team headed for their ninth straight win. They scored a run in the first, added two more in the third and were riding the strong pitching of Kremer, who struck out six over those first three frames.

But in the fourth, T-Town was guilty of some uncharacteristic mistakes.

Zack Lee walked and Brayton Poland lined a base hit to leftfield to get things started for Effingham. The Shoes first error allowed the Hearts to load the bases with one out. Nick Bishop then hit a slow roller back to the mound. Kremer threw to catcher Cody Jansen for the force out at home, but Jansen’s throw to first base sailed over Thoele’s head and then got past right-fielder Mitch Hemmen. As a result of the two errors, two runs scored.

“We kind of let this one get away,” THS Coach Justin Fleener said. “You have to execute plays and we didn’t execute some of them today. We try to minimize those the best we can. We went from putting ourselves into a jam, to having a chance to get out of it to throwing the ball away – all in about 20 seconds.”

The Hearts tied the game in the fifth. With two outs, Ryan Sandifer walked and scored when Lee ripped a double down the right-field line.

In the top of the seventh, Effingham’s Kendall Ballman lined a pitch into the left-centerfield gap for a lead-off double. He went to third on a ground out by Brett Koester and then scored on a passed ball.

Kremer pitched 5.1 innings, but reached the 105-pitch count and was relieved by Collin Funneman. Kremer gave up just three hits, but walked four and struck out nine.

“He’s a tremendous pitcher,” Chris Fleener said. “He was throwing the ball at 90 mph. You don’t see that very often in high school. But if we’re going to win a regional or sectional, we’re going to face good pitchers like that.”

“He had a higher pitch count than he normally does,” Justin Fleener added. “He walked a few more batters than usual and that gets the pitch count up there.”

THS got on the board in the first inning. With one out, Lee Hardiek and Jansen both singled up the middle. And with two outs, Thoele hit a ball that glanced off Lohman’s glove and rolled into shallow left field, allowing Hardiek to scamper home.

In the third, Jansen was hit by a pitch and stole second base. Kremer walked, but Jansen was thrown out trying to steal third. Thoele then drove a pitch over Sandifer’s head in center for an RBI triple. Ethyn Dust followed with a base hit to make it 3-0.

“We are an aggressive team at the plate and that’s what I want,” Justin Fleener said. “We hit some balls hard, but they’re defense made the plays.

“Look at that last ball Drew hit,” the THS coach added. “He hit a screamer, but right at the second baseman. Give them credit. They made the play and turned the double play.”

Effingham improved to 15-2 on the season, while the Shoes dropped to 15-5.

“T-Town is a solid team and we played right with them,” Chris Fleener noted. “This proves we can play with anybody. If we continue to pitch and play like this, I’ll be tickled to death.”