New Franklin baseball coach Erich Gerding summed up last night’s quarterfinal game against the Sturgeon Bulldogs in three words: too many mistakes.
While the Sturgeon Bulldogs actually had more errors than New Franklin 3-2, Gerding said his team just didn’t capitalize early on some of Sturgeon’s mistakes and the Bulldogs just made too many.
As it turned out, New Franklin made one too many as Sturgeon broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth on a RBI-single to right by Ryan Seidel for a 3-2 victory.
The Bulldogs closed out the season at 15-5 overall while Sturgeon improved to 15-1. Sturgeon will advance to the semifinal round of the state tournament on Monday, May 27th in O’Fallon, where they will face 20-5 Oran starting at 3 p.m.
“Before the game even started even after Stoutland on Tuesday we talked about how the game would come down to execution and not making as many mistakes as them,” Gerding said. “Unfortunately, we made more mistakes and that’s what it really boiled down to. We played hard and had great effort, but in the end we just didn’t capitalize early on some of the mistakes they made and we just made too many.”
While both teams combined for 12 hits, the pitching matchup between Sturgeon’s Spencer Kelly and New Franklin junior Tyler Hull was everything the fans thought it would be. Kelly picked up the complete game victory while giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out 11 batters. As for Hull, the right-handed hurler also struck out 11 while giving up three runs, one earned, on five hits and one walk.
Gerding said Kelly is tough and pretty crafty. “I always think we can have better approach at the plate and I thought we should have had a better one tonight,” Gerding said. “He is good but so is Tyler Hull, we just made more mistakes in the field than they did and that was the difference.”
Even with the mistakes, New Franklin took the early lead against Sturgeon by pushing across two runs in the bottom-half of the third on three straight hits, which started with an infield single by Zach Evans. Tyler White then singled to right to put runners on the corners while Tanner White doubled down the right field line to bring in two runs to make it 2-0.
Gerding said his team felt pretty good at that point and pretty confident. However, in the top-half of the fourth, he said the Bulldogs gave up the lead off walk and then had one error and one mental error which led to two Sturgeon runs.
“We only gave up two runs with bases loaded and nobody out, so I thought it was somewhat of a victory,” Gerding said. “But we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
Page 2 of 2 - Although the Bulldogs should have been out of the inning still on top 2-0, a costly mistake on covering the bag at first on an infield hit led to the bases loaded being loaded with no outs. Brayden Kelly then slapped a single past third to score two runs to tie the game at 2-2.
Fast forward to the sixth inning with the score still tied. While the Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Tyler and Tanner White with two outs, a running error again proved costly when Tanner White was caught in a rundown between second and third to end the inning.
Meanwhile, in the top-half of the sixth, Hull again appeared to be cruising through the inning with two on and two outs before making a costly mistake on a 0-2 count against Seidel, who drove the ball to right field for a RBI-single to put the Bulldogs up for good at 3-2.
Kelly then worked his magic in the sixth after giving up a lead-off single to Hull by striking out the next-three batters to end the inning. Then, in the seventh, Hull set Sturgeon down in order while New Franklin had the tying run on first after a bloop single to right by Evan Storjohann and Tyler White at the plate with two outs. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were unable to come up with the big hit as Kelly got White to ground out to the shortstop to end the game.
Gerding said obviously it is a disappointing way to end the season. “I am really proud of these guys and the run they put together after the Harrisburg game,” Gerding said. “At one point we were 7-4, then won eight in a row. This was a special team.”
As for the hitting, Tanner White went 2-for-3 with a single, double and two RBIs while Tyler White, Tyler Hull, Matt Anderton, Evan Storjohann and Zach Evans each had one single.
For Sturgeon, Spencer Kelly went 2-for-3 with two singles while Brayden Kelly added one singles and two RBIs and Ryan Seidel with one single and one RBI.