Leeton rallies past Pilot Grove in Class 1 Sectional game in 9 innings, 2-1

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Pilot Grove third baseman Bo Vinson looks to the infield umpire after making the tag on a Leeton baserunner for the out in the first inning Monday night in a Class 1 Sectional game at Pilot Grove. Leeton rallied with the tying run in the sixth inning and the go ahead run in the ninth to beat Pilot Grove 2-1.

Pilot Grove baseball coach Joe Vossler knew if the Tigers could get one more run, they would be the team moving on to the quarterfinal round Wednesday in Class 1.

Although the Tigers got the first run of the ballgame, Leeton got the next two for a 2-1 victory in nine innings Monday night in Pilot Grove.

While the loss closed out Pilot Grove’s season at 18-7 overall, Vossler said the Tigers created their opportunities throughout the ball game but just didn’t capitalize or deliver when they had the shot and Leeton did.

“That’s the difference in the ball game,” Vossler said. “That can be the fine line between moving on and not moving on. But we got to where our best player was at the plate with a chance to win a ballgame at the end. I don’t think anybody couldn’t have done any better. For him to be up with a chance to win a ballgame, that’s what we needed.”

Leeton, 14-7 on the season, will now move on to the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs on Wednesday against Wellsville-Middletown in Leeton, starting at 4 p.m. Wellsville-Middletown beat Glasgow Monday night in Glasgow 10-0 in six innings.

Although Leeton scored the last two runs of the ball game, it’s safe to say that Pilot Grove had its chances with runners at second and third in the seventh and eighth innings and bases loaded in the ninth.

The Tigers also out-hit Leeton 9-5 with both teams committing two errors. However with seven runners left on base in the final three innings, Pilot Grove still got the outlook they were looking for in the ninth with senior Bailey Quint at the plate with two outs and the Tigers down by just one run at 2-1.

Of course nobody had more hits in the game leading up to the ninth than Quint. While going 4-4 up until the ninth with one single, two doubles and one RBI, Quint was also one of the best at not striking out this season with only one K.

However, after running the count full against Leeton pitcher Ethan Driskill with the tying run at third and the winning run at second, Quint wound up flying out to the center fielder to end the game.

Vossler said you couldn’t have asked for a better scenario with Quint at the plate with bases loaded and two outs. “Bailey’s been our best hitter all year and I think he proved that with four hits tonight,” Vossler said. “He just didn’t get it to drop.”

The opportunity was there for the Tigers in the first-two innings, but each time Pilot Grove left runners on base. However, after getting out of the first inning with two Leeton runners on, Pilot Grove finally broke through in the bottom half of the third on a RBI-single past third by Quint to make it 1-0.

Quint also did it with his arm against the Bulldogs while giving up just two hits in five innings. Quint was also close to being out of the inning in the sixth with one out until senior Garrett Manley hit a double to left. Meanwhile, after a wild pitch, Manley came across to score on a fly out to center by Cody Shackelford to tie the game at 1-all.

Pilot Grove left one runner on in the sixth, as did Leeton in the seventh. Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the seventh, the Tigers threatened again when Hayden Krumm and Hank Zeller both hit back to back singles with one out. Pilot Grove then got a gift on a balk call to move runners over to second and third. The Tigers never got any closer to scoring as pitcher Justin Floyd came back and got a strikeout and a fly out to short to end the inning.

In the eighth after a 1-2-3 inning by Leeton, Pilot Grove threatened again with a one out double to left by Quint and a walk by Dalton Reuter. But one again the Tigers proved to be their worst enemy by failing to move the runners 90 feet. 

Leeton finally got the break they were looking for in the ninth after a lead off double to left by Shackelford. Shackelford later stole third and came home for the go ahead run on a will throw to third to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the ball game at 2-1. 

Pilot Grove didn’t go away quietly, though. In the bottom half of the ninth down 2-1, the Tigers loaded the bases after a lead off single to right by Krumm and a walk by Zeller. Then, after a strikeout for the first out in the inning, Luke Kollmeyer laced a single to left. Vossler chose to hold Krumm at third instead of risking him being thrown out at home for the second out. Two batters later, Leeton got Quint on a fly out to center to end the game.

Vossler said he had a mark in the dirt down third base line to where he was going to send Krumm or make him come back. “Hayden was coming hard but the throw from the outfield to the relay was good,” Vossler said. “I didn’t want to take that chance and there be two outs. Leaving it for Bailey to have a shot was more important than trying to get that run there. There are no regrets at all.”

Driskill picked up the win in relief for Leeton, while Vinson took the loss for Pilot Grove. 

Kyle Wilson started the game for Leeton and gave up one run on six hits with six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Floyd then came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed three hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Then, to finish the game, Driskill pitched one inning and issued one hit with two strikeouts.

For Pilot Grove, Quint pitched the first-seven innings and struck out 10 batters while giving up one run on three hits and two walks. Vinson then came in and pitched two innings in relief and gave up one run on two hits with four strikeouts. 

Manley went 2-for-4 in the game for Leeton with a single and a double. Shackelford had one single and drove in one run, while Driskill and Camden Uptegrove added one single each.

For Pilot Grove, Quint went 4-for-5 with two doubles and one RBI. Kollmeyer and Krumm each had two singles while Zeller added one single.