COAL GROVE — It came down to one pitch, and it wasn’t the pitch you might think.
The pitch that was hit for a grand slam seems like the key pitch, but it was the “ball four” pitch on the previous batter that may have been the difference as the Trimble Tomcats rallied to beat the St. Joseph Flyers 4-3 Thursday in the Division IV sectional finals.
Flyers’ pitcher Tanner Riley allowed just two hits but was saddled with the loss. He struck out seven and walked a season-high five batters.
“It’s a shame that Tanner pitched that well and didn’t get a win. He hasn’t walked more than two batters in a game all year and he walks five tonight,” said Flyers’ coach Greg Bryant.
The pivotal pitches came in the top of the fifth inning with the Flyers leading 3-0.
Trimble’s Storm Rushing walked and Bruce Losey had a bloop single just out of the reach of the second baseman. Both advanced on a wild pitch. Kier Standley drew a two-out walk on a pitch that appeared to be strike three and the bases were loaded.
J.D. Chesser then hit a grand slam on the first pitch over the right-centerfield fence.
“The kid who hit the grand slam hit a good pitch. It was down and he went and got it,” said Bryant.
The Flyers got all their runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Payton Blair led off with a double and went to third base on a throwing error. Levi Hopkins had an RBI single and moved up on a wild pitch.
Riley walked and Justin Mahlmeister doubled to drive in Hopkins. T.J. Young hit a sacrifice fly to send home the final run.
“We hit the ball but it was right at somebody, and we made plays in the field. We pretty much controlled the game except for one inning,” said Bryant.
Chesser got the win as he allowed six hits, struck out five and walked three.
St. Joseph finishes the season 13-6. Trimble is now 12-12.
Trimble 000 040 0 = 4 2 4
St. Joseph 300 000 0 = 3 6 2
J.D. Chesser and Jacob Hooper. Tanner Riley and Justin Mahlmeister. W-Chesser (5-K, 3-BB). L-Riley (7-K, 5-BB). 2B-St. Joseph: Payton Blair, Tanner Riley, Justin Mahlmeister HR-Trimble: J.D. Chesser. Hitting-Trimble: J.D. Chesser 1-3, Bruce Losey 1-3; St. Joseph: Payton Blair 1-4, Levi Hopkins 1-4, Tanner Riley 1-2, Justin Mahlmeister 2-4, Anthony Whaley 1-3.