RI 4, MOLINE 3
ROCK ISLAND — While his legion baseball team was struggling to get anything going with the bats, Rock Island Post 200 pitcher Jono Berry kept throwing zeroes up on the scoreboard, waiting patiently.
His patience was rewarded. With Berry's five no-hit innings of relief and a two-out, three-run rally in the sixth inning, Post 200 came back to beat Moline Post 246, 4-3 in Tuesday's second annual Bridges Catering Veterans Cup Challenge in front of a large crowd at Douglas Park.
"My mindset was just to go out there and do my job," Berry said. "I wanted to work as quick and efficient as I could and keep them off the board until we could get something going."
Through 5⅔ innings, RI did very little in terms of getting going. A single run in the third inning and just two hits were all Post 200 could manage. Then, a walk to Charlie Allison on a 3-2 pitch opened the flood gates.
Carson James sliced a double down the left-field line to score Allison. Clayton Thomas lined a single to right to put runners at the corners and Khyri White ripped an RBI single up the middle to tie the game.
Thomas then raced home on a passed ball to score the eventual game-winning run.
"It took us a little while but we finally got something going with that two-out walk," White said. "That was the mistake we needed. I was watching (Moline reliever Mike Conner) in the bullpen and noticed he was throwing almost all fastballs. I went up looking to drive a fastball up the middle and that's what I did.
"I'm glad we finally got something going because I never like losing to Moline."
Rock Island might have if not for Berry. He struck out eight batters and only had one man reach base against him — that coming on an error.
"Jono was sensational," RI coach TJ Hoffman said. "We couldn't get anything going, but he kept giving us a chance. He was very solid and threw strikes."
Berry kept things rolling by throwing almost nothing but strikes. In three of his five innings, he threw fewer than 10 pitches.
"My process is to throw strike one on every first pitch and work from there," Berry said. "I knew for myself and the rest of my Alleman guys I needed to get some revenge after the way Moline pounded us in the high school season."
Before the RI up-rising in the sixth, Post 246 had played a near-perfect game. Their pitchers were dominant and the offense got off to a quick start with three early runs in the first inning.
"We played well all night except for not tacking on runs after the three in the first," Moline coach Jim Zacharewicz said. "The two-out walk really didn't seem like it was a big thing because we had the bottom of the order coming up. Give Rock Island credit, they put together some good at bats and got clutch hits.
"Mike had thrown about 10-15 innings for us at the high school this year, so it is just a start for him. Right now, we are still looking at things and trying to figure everything out. We moderated our pitchers (Will McLaughlin 2⅔ innings and Landon Thiele, 3 innings) because we have a game (today) and five this weekend. We need all of them this weekend."
In that opening inning, Post 246 took advantage of a leadoff walk and two errors to score three times off RI starter Spencer Hasselroth. Aiden Michna, Jacob Pauwels and Parker George all laced RBI singles in the rally.
"We didn't give Spencer any help with our defense," Hoffman said. "That's a big reason why we took him out after the first inning, I just felt like we needed a change of scenery. Spencer will be fine."