The top two Decatur seeds in the annual Sandy Koufax League post-season tournament were victorious Wednesday night although not without early challenges in their games.
In the opener at Worthman Field, undefeated Erie Haven found themselves in uncharted territory when they trailed the Bluffton Elks 5-3 after three innings. Erie Haven rallied to get within one in the fourth and then a key two-RBI double by Ryan Okoniewski in the fifth with two outs put Erie Haven ahead and they finished with three more in the sixth for a final 9-5 victory. Ben Fullenkamp came on in relief for Erie Haven to pick up the pitching decision. Erie hurlers fanned nine batters while allowing five Bluffton hits and seven walks. Eric Baumgartner took the loss with six Ks. Triston Niblick doubled for the Elks.
In the nightcap, the McIntire Heaters and the HME Crushers of Monroe were in a tight 2-2 battle when the Heaters finally took the lead in the fifth.
The Heaters had just two hits in the game prior to the fifth but in that inning, Logan Hake singled and rode home on a long double by Josh Brune to take a 3-2 edge. They then went up 5-3 on a long two-run inside-the-park home run by Parker Zeser to the 351 sign in left center field. A big seven-run sixth inning concluded the game via the run rule with Heaters scoring a 13-2 victory. The winning blow was a three-run inside-the-park walk-off home run to center field by Troy Dahlstrom that came after singles by Zach Macklin, Jeremy Razo, and Tony Busse.
Patrick McBarnes of the Heaters and Blake Bauman of HME were locked up in an early pitching duel with the first 10 batters of the game being retired to the dugout. The Heaters tallied single runs in the second and fourth before the Crushers rallied with two in the fifth. Zeser threw the final two innings for the save. McBarnes whiffed 10 and Zeser had a pair.
McIntire's outhit HME by a 13-3 tally.
At Don Ray Field in Monroe, two more games were played in tournament action with Courtesy Motors downing Northern Wells 7-4 and Monroe Corner Deli taking out South Adams 20-2.
The Deli and the Starfires were knotted at 1-1 after one when Monroe erupted for nine runs in the second and six in the third for a 16-1 advantage. With four more in the fourth, Monroe Corner Deli won via the run rule.
Tanner Butler homered and doubled for the winners while Luke Liter doubled in a two-hit game and had three RBIs, Cody Crump doubled among his two hits and drove in four RBIs, Carter Sharp doubled among two hits to go with his two RBIs, Eli Nill doubled, and both Jared Lehman and Zach Fiechter had two hits.
Butler and Liter pitcher for Monroe Corner Deli and combined for five strikeouts while allowing only three hits and four walks.
Details on the Courtesy Motors game were not available other than the final score.
Tonight's action finds the winner's bracket playing two games at Worthman Field with Erie Haven and Courtesy Motors going at 5:30 p.m. and Monroe Corner Deli and McIntire Heaters at approximately 7:45 p.m. The loser's bracket play at Don Ray Field in Monroe will also start at 5:30 p.m. with the Bluffton Elks and HME Crushers playing and then at 7:45 p.m. South Adams will take on Northern Wells.