The Legion baseball teams of Moline and East Moline are well-acquainted with each other.
After a full season of Legion play this summer preceded by the high school baseball season, all of the kids on both teams are familiar with each other.
That familiarity led to a back-and-forth, 10-inning thriller to open competition in Legion Division Tournament play, with Moline Post 246 coming back in the bottom of the 10th for a 5-4 win.
East Moline Post 227 took the lead in the top of the 10th inning after designated runner Kyler Trueblood reached third on a sacrifice bunt from Jason Dean and scored on a sacrifice fly from Brody Toland to make it 4-3.
In the bottom of the inning, it was the same script for Moline. Designated runner Maverick Chisholm reached third on a bunt from Kalen Paquin, but Paquin was safe at first after a fielding mishap from East Moline. Hunter Woods came up next and hit a game-winning two-RBI double into the gap to allow Moline to advance through the winners' bracket to play Peoria Friday.
Known for his speed in the lead-off spot, Woods was more than happy to be the big hero for Moline on Thursday afternoon.
"It felt great to come up big when it counted," Woods said. "I went 0-for-3 in the first seven innings but went 2-for-2 in extra innings."
In what was a low-scoring game for most of the first seven innings, Moline Legion coach Matt Trouten knew that Woods could come up big for his team.
"He's been great at the plate all season for us," Trouten said. "He has that confidence of a veteran player, and it shows."
Moline trailed 2-1 most of the game after both teams scored in the second inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Davis Hoffstatter hit an RBI single to score Calvin Wall from third and tied the game up. A scoreless seventh inning brought up East Moline in the top of the eighth, and Trueblood scored from third on an RBI single from Landon Farnsworth to go back up 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, Palquin scored after Ryne Schimmel reached first on a fielder's choice to tie the game at three.
Moline only had five hits in the game but made those five hits count.
"We didn't hit the best throughout the afternoon, but we had guys come through when it mattered," Trouten said. "Some of our guys were able to beat out throws with their speed or steal bases when we needed them to.
Even though East Moline came away without a win, coach Jacob Velasquez saw a good performance from his squad.
"They battled until the very end, and a game like that was definitely needed for our confidence," Velasquez said. "We need to stay focused late in the game and capitalize when we have runners in scoring position, but the guys worked really hard for it and showed good energy early on."
Trueblood was one of those who had a great performance for East Moline, going 2-for-5 and scoring three runs after he was the designated runner in the 8th and 10th innings. He also had a few excellent defensive plays in right field, almost certainly saving runs from scoring.
"I felt pretty good out there this afternoon, and even though we lost I think we played really well," Trueblood said. "We can hold our heads high going into the game tomorrow."
After the loss, East Moline will play Rock Island in the loser's bracket of the tournament. It is a double-elimination, so that puts both teams in a loser-goes-home situation.
Jayson Sevier pitched eight innings for East Moline and had great command of his pitches on the mound. He said he feels confident after the loss that the team can move forward in the bracket.
"I was able to control contact up there today and throw solid strikes when needed," Sevier said. "It was a big confidence booster and tomorrow we just need to get a few more runs on the board."