State title within reach for Danville Post 210

State title within reach for Danville Post 210

RANTOUL — This wasn't the team Danville Post 210 manager Allan Shepherd had seen for the last undefeated month.

Some of the seven errors committed in a 10-6 loss to Edwardsville Post 199 on Friday in the American Legion state semi-finals at Wabash Park came on hard-hit balls, but a few were simple mistakes.

Luckily, the Speakers had another chance in the double-elimination tournament.

"We probably made more errors in that game than we have in the last month," Shepherd said. "(The team was) a little shell-shocked, but it was right back to business ... Honestly there was not (concern) because after our losses this year we always come out and play better. That's speaking to the experience on our team."

Facing Barrington Post 158 in a win-or-go-home game on Friday evening, Danville took a 6-0 lead in the first two innings and Dylan Dodd hit a home run and a double to give Post 210 a 10-5 win over and a spot in today's 10:30 a.m. championship game.

More importantly to Shepherd, they didn't commit any errors.

"I knew we needed to clean it up defensively, and we did," Shepherd said. "We had talks with the kids who made the errors. I didn't make any drastic changes. I put the starters right back out there and they went after it."

Like Dodd, Skylar Bolton tallied three hits, and Noah Nelson allowed one run over five innings before Chris Johnson finished off the win.

"It was a tale of two different teams," Shepherd said. "We didn't show up in our first game. I don't know what it was, whether it was a hangover from two really good ball games in two nights, but my team showed up in the second game and beat a very good Barrington team."

To defend its state championship, Danville (35-3) will have to beat Edwardsville (39-8) twice today without losing. If Danville can get past Post 199 in the first game, the two teams would meet again at 2 p.m.

But one mission is already accomplished: the guaranteed top-two finish earned them a spot in the Great Lakes Regional for the second straight year. That tournament starts on Wednesday in Napoleon, Ohio.

The Speakers have always had their eyes on making a run in regionals after losing both of their games at that tournament last year. But they're also motivated to beat an Edwardsville team that has handed Post 210 two of its three losses this summer.

"We hadn't lost a game in probably a month, and it's almost nice to get that out of our system to get back and get ready for regionals," Shepherd said. "They're excited but still business-like. They want another run at Edwardsville."

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