Posted Online: May 03, 2008, 10:38 pm
Moline clinches second straight Big 6 title
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By Matt Veto, firstname.lastname@example.org
Their post-game celebration wasn’t boisterous. The Moline High School baseball team believes there is more left to tell of their 2008 tale.
For the second season in a row, and for the fifth time this decade, the Maroons (18-5, 9-1) secured the Western Big 6 Conference championship -- that after Saturday's 8-5 and 6-2 wins over Galesburg (10-13, 4-6). But Moline senior Seth Hood said the road doesn't stop there.
"This is two years in a row, but we're going to try to go a little further in the regionals this year," said Hood.
The first of those playoff games for top-seeded Moline will be against last-place Quincy at Quincy on May 21. Last season, the Maroons were knocked out of the regionals in a first-round shocker by Metamora.
On a cool and gusty Saturday afternoon at Moline's Holmgren Field, the Maroons found themselves trailing after the top of the first inning in each contest.
In Game 1, the Maroons committed three errors in the first that led to four unearned runs. Moline starter Chris Larsen faced eight batters and threw close to 40 pitches in the top of that frame.
"Things kind of got out of hand there," Larsen said. "We knew we couldn't let that get away. We knew we could score. It was just a matter of time. We needed to get the momentum back on our side."
The Maroons got three runs back in the bottom of the first thanks to Larsen's two-RBI triple and a run-scoring single by Gabe Favela. Seth Hood's three-run, opposite-field homer in the third inning gave the Maroons a 6-4 lead.
Hood's homer was a much-needed lift to his spirits as he had been unhappy with some of his recent at-bats.
"You just try to do the little things," Hood said. "But when you're not playing that good, someone else is. So we back each other up."
In the fifth, Galesburg trimmed the lead to one with another unearned run, but Moline's Kevin Bradley plated two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-out single to cap the scoring.
Larsen (5-0) picked up the win, and Ethan Naab struck out two batters in a one-two-three seventh to earn his third save.
In Game 2, Galesburg jumped out to a 1-0 lead but didn't score again until the top of the sixth. In the meantime, the Maroons tallied six runs and rode the arm of pitcher Evan Lawrence the rest of the way. Lawrence struck out five over seven innings and surrendered two runs on nine hits to improve to 6-1.
Moline coach Derek Lindauer was pleased with the wins, but indicated that there are still a few things that should be addressed before taking on any playoff opponent.
"I don't think we played great baseball, but we played well enough to win," he said. "We've done that a couple of times out of the gate. It seems like we aren't emotionally into it until the fourth or fifth inning. That's a concern of ours."
Overall, though, Lindauer was pleased with the defense after the first inning of Game 1 and noted that the weather was not ideal for either team.
He also said that this week will bring rest for many players.
"I told the guys, this week, we're just going to play some baseball, play some different guys and have a relaxing week," Lindauer said. "The Saturday grind is over."