CHARLESTON — Deja vu appeared on the horizon for the Danville Post 210 Senior Legion baseball team.
Its athletes spent Friday engaging in a back-and-forth battle with Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750, ultimately losing 16-15 to the team out of Ohio during the third day of the Great Lakes Regional at Coaches Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. Likewise, Saturday’s win-or-go-home tilt with Gladwin County (Mich.) Post 171 opened with the Speakers enjoying a 5-4 lead. Only through one inning, though.
“I think it was just nerves,” Post 210 coach Allan Shepherd said.
Maybe so, considering how the rest of the game played out.
Mason Ecker settled down after a rough first frame to toss six workmanlike innings, and the Paxton-Buckley-Loda graduate received enough run support in the form of timely hitting and fielding to give the Speakers a 7-5 victory over Post 171.
That means Post 210 (34-8-1) retains the possibility of advancing to its first-ever American Legion World Series.
But the Speakers must topple Post 389/750 twice Sunday, with the first pitch slated for 11:30 a.m.
If Post 210 knocks off Post 389/750 in its first game on Sunday, the winner-take-all game is set to start at 3:30 p.m. at Coaches Stadium.
“No walks the next time,” Shepherd said, referencing nine free passes given up by Post 210 in that aforementioned Friday defeat.
The Speakers permitted five walks to Post 171 on Saturday, but ultimately did enough correctly to keep their season going into the final day of the Great Lakes Regional.
Two-run doubles by Logan Spicer and Gage Romack assisted Post 210 in acquiring a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Romack finished 2 for 3, while both Spicer and Ernest Plummer went 2 for 4 to pace Post 210’s offense.
“We saw (Post 171 starter Garhet Metiva) warm up. We didn’t see a whole lot of breaking stuff, and the guys picked up on it,” Shepherd said. “All year long we’ve been that team — we will attack on a fastball.”
Post 171 responded with four tallies in the bottom of the first, but was held almost silent the rest of the way.
“Midway through the second inning (Ecker) slowed his (pitching) motion down,” Shepherd said.
A couple of diving plays from Chase Vinson at first base and a Spicer barehanded stab turned into an out from third base made up for an unearned run allowed by the Speakers as well.
If Post 210 on Sunday can display more of what Shepherd saw over the last six innings Saturday, it could complete a World Series-caliber comeback.
And book a trip next week to Shelby, N.C., the site of the World Series.
“Normally we play good defense and work out of the zone,” Shepherd said. “We got back to our game in the third inning (Saturday).”