Because of one inning, one more weekend -- the final weekend -- in Western Big 6 Conference baseball will have meaning.|
The Alleman Pioneers had hopes of making next Saturday's doubleheader at Quincy insignificant. With a two-game sweep of Galesburg at Gerard's Yard, they would have won the conference title outright for the fourth time and first since 2004.
Such a thing was within their grasp, winning Saturday's opener 5-1 on a one-hitter by Cody Sedlock and then leading 4-1 after three innings of the second game.
Then came Galesburg's fourth inning. And the conference race certainly wasn't over by the time that was over.
The Streaks sent 14 batters to the plate, with 10 consecutive reaching base. They scored eight runs that propelled them to a 12-6 victory.
It left the Pioneers with their first WB6 loss, at 7-1, and their season's first blemish at 17-1. Galesburg (18-6, 6-2) needs a sweep of United Township and an Alleman split at Quincy to gain part of the title.
"The baseball season is too long; a perfect season was never a goal of ours," said Alleman coach Chris Lemon. "Winning the conference is, but going undefeated was never on our radar.
"I'm proud of our guys to this point. We still control our own destiny. I can live with that."
Likewise, Galesburg coach Arnie Gonzalez is glad that the last Saturday of the WB6 season has meaning for the Streaks, who host United Township.
"You can't ask for anything more," he said. "We have the last week at home, and we have to sweep to stay in the race. A lot of things can happen. Still, face facts with facts, that's a good team over there and Alleman will keep rolling. We just hope they have one bad game."
Or another really bad inning.
"We've played 18 games and have had one bad inning," said Lemon, noting his team has only trailed on a couple of occasions.
The Streaks got to Alleman pitcher Taner Ledezma (4-1) with four straight hits after one out in the fourth. The Pioneers turned to Angus Buller, but he couldn't slow the Streaks, with Drake Sykes hitting a home run and winning pitcher Peyton Isaacson (6-0) getting a two-run double.
Streaks shortstop Tanner Laird did his damage on both sides of the fourth. He hit home runs in the second and sixth, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
All but one of Alleman's runs came from home runs, a three-run shot by Ledezma in the first and a two-run blast by Sedlock in the fifth.
Sedlock (5-0) was the star of the opener, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He settled for a one-hitter, and came oh, so close to his first high-school no-no.
With two out and two on in the sixth, Laird lined a shot up the middle that Sedlock got a glove on. The ball wound up in front of the mound, with Sedlock trying to find it as Laird crossed the bag for a single.
"I thought I caught it. I snow-coned it," Sedlock said of the shot, "but it took the glove right off my hand."
Actually, Sedlock was fortunate to have the gem that long. In the fourth, Galesburg's Chans Sugden blooped one into right field, but the Pioneers got a force out at second base, negating the base hit.
Lending offensive help for Alleman were John Tracey, with a two-out, two-run single in the first, and Dan Cutkomp and Connor Whan with solo home runs.
Sedlock did have uncharacteristic control issues, walking seven, though he struck out eight.
"I've had good control all year," he said. "This was just one of those days. I couldn't find a release point. Actually, (catcher) Sean Wetherell caught an amazing game and saved me on a lot of pitches."
Still, Lemon made note of the more important statistic. "He gave up just one run," the coach said. "But we do have to get rid of the 7.
"Cody loves the big stage. The bigger the stage, the more he elevates his level."