BASEBALL: Fight to finish: Ike stays in playoff race with win over Youngsville

The temperature may have been more indicative of a game in early March, but the Knights’ and Eagles’ bats were in mid-season form Monday afternoon at Davis Street Field in Youngsville.

The two teams battled to an 8-8 tie through six innings when Eisenhower’s Logan Bellardo lifted a sacrifice fly into left field to score courtesy runner Chris Sanders, giving the Knights the late lead.

Freshman Casey Vincent set the Eagles down in order in the bottom of the seventh, earning the save and keeping Ike’s Class A playoff hopes alive with a 9-8 Region 4 win over their county rivals.

“It took us a while to start hitting,” said Eisenhower coach Jon Vincent. “We started a little shaky, but eventually we settled down and settled in. I’m pleased with how we hung in. This was a good win for us.”

What would become Eisenhower’s day was all Youngsville early on. The Eagles stormed out of the gate, scoring six runs in a first inning that started with a double off the bat of sophomore pitcher Aaron Hoover. Hoover would come around to score on an RBI single from Caleb Linkerhof, who crossed the plate for the second run of the inning on a James Frazier single.

With two outs and the bases loaded, freshman second baseman Tanner Humphrey connected on a double that scored three runs for the Eagles. Humphrey advanced to third on an errant throw, and Dan McLaughlin knocked him in with a single to take a 6-0 lead before the Knights could stop the bleeding.

Hoover and Eisenhower starter Ryan Williams traded scoreless innings until the top of the fourth when Ike got its first run – and its first hit – on an RBI double from Kyle Hunt that scored Vincent. Aaron Lundmark followed up with a single, and Williams hit a sacrifice fly to score Hunt as the Knights began to chip away at the lead.

Bellardo kept the inning going with an infield single, Jeb Fedorchuk singled home Lundmark, and Bellardo made it home safely on a passed ball before Shane Arford scored Fedorchuk to pull Eisenhower within one.

Coty Cantrell reached base on an infield single to set up Vincent, who blasted a triple into right-center field, scoring a pair and giving the Knights the lead. Another passed ball allowed Vincent to score for the second time in the inning, and Ike tallied two more hits from Hunt and Lundmark but couldn’t bring either around to score, settling for an 8-6 lead.

Youngsville made sure the Knights’ lead was short-lived, answering with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie things up at eight runs apiece. After McLaughlin led off with a double, Jake Marino singled and Hoover hit into a fielder’s choice that brought the first run across before Linkerhof singled home Marino for his second RBI of the game.

Williams was able to escape further damage, and went on to throw a scoreless fifth and sixth to set up the Knights’ offense in the top of the seventh. The senior hurler helped his own cause with a leadoff double before giving way to Sanders on the basepaths and setting up Bellardo’s game winning RBI.

Youngsville’s Brandon Cochran took a tough loss on the mound after entering the game in relief of Hoover. The senior worked two scoreless innings before surrendering his only run in the top of the seventh.

Hunt had three hits and Vincent, Lundmark and Fedorchuk each had a pair of hits in the win for Ike. Vincent drove in two runs in addition to earning the save on the mound.

For the Eagles, Linkerhof and McLaughlin each had two hits, and Humphrey led the way with three runs batted in.

With Monday’s win and an Iroquois loss against Titusville, Eisenhower finds itself in a tie for Region 4’s Class A playoff bid with the Braves. The two teams meet tomorrow at Iroquois High School with a berth in the District 10 playoffs on the line.

Next up for Youngsville will be completing Friday’s game with Franklin that was suspended in the fourth inning due to incliment weather. Franklin will return to Davis Street on Thursday with the score tied at 2-2.

EISENHOWER (9): ab-r-h-rbi: Cantrell, 2b, 4-1-1-0, Vincent, ss, 4-2-2-2, Hunt, 1b, 4-1-3-1, Lundmark, rf, 4-1-2-0, Williams, p, 4-0-1-1, Sanders, cr, 0-1-0-0, Bellardo, c, 4-1-0-1, Fedorchuk, cf, 4-1-2-1, Spencer, dh, 2-0-0-0, Jackson, 3b, 0-0-0-0, Head, dh, 2-0-0-0, Arford, lf, 3-1-1-1. Totals 35-9-12-8.

YOUNGSVILLE (8): Marino, cf, 4-1-1-0, Hoover, p-c, 4-1-1-1, Linkerhof, ss, 4-1-2-2, Lehman, 1b, 4-0-1-0, Henry, 3b, 3-1-0-0, Frazier, lf, 3-1-1-0, Kerr, c, 1-1-0-0, Cochran, p, 1-0-0-0, Humphrey, 3-1-1-3, McLaughlin, 3-1-2-1. Totals 30-8-9-7.

Eisenhower 000 800 1 – 9 12 3

Youngsville 600 200 0 – 8 9 2

2B-Hunt (E), Williams (E), Hoover (Y), Humphrey (Y), McLaughlin (Y). 3b-Vincent (E). WP-Williams. LP-Cochran. S-Vincent.