BASEBALL: Ike closer to playoff spot

LAWRENCE PARK – Eisenhower has fought its way into the District 10 Class A baseball playoffs.

At least as far as it knows.

The Knights defeated the Iroquois Braves, 6-5, in a rain-shortened game Tuesday at Iroquois High School. The game was called after five innings and, by rule, should stand as a completed game, according to Ike coach Jon Vincent. If it does, the Knights would move one game ahead of the Braves in the final region standings and thus secure the final Class A postseason berth.

Vincent says that while the game should stand as final, he isn’t yet sure what decision the District 10 committee will make.

“From our understanding, it’s a completed game,” said Vincent. “I think Iroquois is under the impression that we will have to come back to play the final two innings. I’m not sure exactly what decision will be made, but the way we see it, we won the game and should be in the playoffs because of the win.”

The two teams entered Tuesday’s game knowing it was all but an “elimination game” as far as the postseason was concerned. The winner was in and the loser was heading home for the summer.

Things didn’t exactly start out well for the Knights.

Eisenhower stranded runners on second and third in each of the first two innings and watched as the Braves quickly carved out a 3-0 lead. Freshman pitcher Casey Vincent struggled for the first time all season, allowing two first-inning homers as Iroquois took a 3-0 edge.

After struggling to hit in the clutch over the first two innings, Ike came through and got on the board in the third. Vincent started the inning with a single and moved to third on Kyle Hunt’s double. A run scored on Ryan Williams’ sacrifice fly and Logan Bellardo began what would become a big day with an RBI single that scored Hunt and made it 3-2.

Iroquois added its third homer of the game in the bottom of the third, but the Knights (5-9) responded with two runs in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4. Shane Arford and Hunt drew walks and both scored on a clutch two-run single from Aaron Lundmark.

The game remained tied into the fifth inning when Bellardo came up with what was arguably the biggest hit of the season. After Williams walked, Bellardo crushed his second homer of the season, bringing home a pair and giving Ike a 6-4 lead.

Iroquois scratched out a fifth run on a passed ball in the bottom of the fifth, but Vincent got the remaining three batters in order to keep it 6-5 after five innings.

As Eisenhower prepared to bat in the top of the sixth, rain began to fall in Lawrence Park and play was delayed. After a wait of over 30 minutes, the game was called and Eisenhower headed for home with the all-important victory.

“The guys came here ready to play, but it was a little scary after the slow start,” said Vincent. “I’ll tell you what though. Logan Bellardo came up so big for us today. For a sophomore to give us the kind of production he gave us today is great. That homer in the fifth really lifted our spirits and fired the guys up.”

The Knights will return to the diamond Wednesday, visiting North East. While the Knights are now expected to be included in the D-10 Class A playoff field, their fate will not be officially announced until this weekend when the D-10 committee releases the 2013 postseason brackets.

EISENHOWER (6): Cantrell, 2b, 4-0-1-0, Vincent, p, 4-1-2-0, Hunt, ss, 2-2-1-0, Lundmark, rf, 3-0-1-2, Williams, 1b, 2-1-0-1, Bellardo, c, 3-1-3-3, Fedorchuk, cf, 3-0-2-0, Jackson, 3b, 2-0-0-0, Spencer, 3b, 1-0-0-0, Arford, lf, 1-1-0-0, Totals: 25-6-10-6

IROQUOIS (5): Ladorski, c, 3-1-1-1, Bokoff, 1b, 3-0-0-0, Lake, ss, 3-1-1-1, C. Edinger, 2b, 2-1-0-0, Shoo, rf, 0-0-0-0, Roda, dh, 2-1-1-2, R. Edinger, lf, 2-0-0-0, Brown, cf, 2-0-0-0, Carpin, p, 2-0-0-0, Major, 3b, 1-1-1-0, Totals: 20-5-4-4

Eisenhower 002 22 – 6 10

Iroquois 301 10 – 5 4

2b-Hunt (E). HR-Bellardo (E), Ladorski (I), Roda (I), Lake (I). WP-Vincent. LP-Carpin.