Diamond boys drop close game in semifinals

Kayci Woodley
Charger first baseman Cody Williams attempts to tag out a Tremont baserunner.

The effort of the Orion baseball team wasn’t enough to advance to the sectional final this year. The Chargers fell to Tremont 3-2 on Wednesday, May 27.

Illinois Wesleyan University hosted the game in Bloomington.

“We got down early, but not by much, and we knew that we could keep chipping away at that lead, and we did a good job of doing that, but just couldn’t capitalize at the end,” said senior pitcher Josh Hutton.

The two teams had a scoreless first inning and matched one another in the second. Tremont started off with two hits and a run in the top of the second, and Orion answered back with two hits and a run as well to tie the ball game at 1-1.

In the third inning, the Turks rallied to bring in two runs. 

Orion’s Ian Cooper hit a single to center field in the bottom of the third and senior Josh Hutton walked. The third out left the Chargers with the bases loaded.

“We simply did not cash in on numerous opportunities,” Palar said. “We could not get a timely hit today.”

A solid defensive effort by Hutton held Tremont scoreless in the top of the fourth. He struck out a batter and moments later threw out a runner trying to steal second.

“We pitched out of a few jams but they battled hard and had a lot of fight in them,” said head coach Bryce Palar in reference to the Turks. “They didn’t quit and they are on a high streak right now.”

In the bottom of the fourth, senior Lucas Grymonprez hit a double to center field but no other Chargers could convert in the batter’s box.

Junior James Matson was walked in the bottom of the fifth. Cooper outran the throw after a hit to the shortstop for a single that sent Matson home. The run brought the score to 3-2.

The Charger defense came through again in the top of the sixth inning, clearing the order of the first three batters with three outs. However, Orion couldn’t convert offensively in the bottom of sixth as they didn’t get any runners on base.

“Our pitching and defense have been strong all year,” Palar said. “But tonight we gave up three runs and normally that doesn’t deserve a loss, but it happens and it’s unfortunate that it ended our season.”

Palar switched senior Cody Williams in for Hutton at the mound in the top of the seventh. Williams started off with a double play after catching an attempted bunt for an out and then throwing out the Turk runner at first base. 

The third out was a catch by Grymonprez after a ball was hit between first and second for the final out.

The Chargers were down one in the bottom of the seventh, and they were at the top of the order. Matson stepped up and did exactly what Orion needed with a rip to right field. He advanced to second base on the hit. 

Next up was sophomore Jake Johnson, who struck out at the plate. Seniors Williams and Cooper both struck out to end the game for the Chargers.

“Anytime you get somebody on in the bottom of the seventh in a 3-2 ball game, and you don’t get that run in you’re not going to win,” Palar said.

Tremont’s offensive and defensive effort spoke much louder than their record. The Turks from the Heart of Illinois Conference certainly didn’t play like a 15-13 team.

“[Tremont’s] record won’t impress you, but they’re going to give anyone they play all they’ve got,” Palar said.

In the sectional championship game, the Turks lost 6-3 to the Vikings of London Spoon River Valley.