CHARLESTON — Some messages deliver themselves in the sporting world.
Allan Shepherd didn’t need to put forth a rousing speech Friday for his Danville Post 210 Senior Legion baseball team. He simply had to tell them the truth.
“See you tomorrow. We’ve got three games to win,” Shepherd recalled.
The words came after a wild 16-15 defeat at the hands of Beverly/Lowell (Ohio) Post 389/750 in Day 3 of the Great Lakes Regional at Eastern Illinois’ Coaches Stadium.
It ensured the Speakers (33-8-1) would need to remain perfect the rest of the week in order to qualify for their first-ever American Legion World Series.
“If we score 15 runs, we’re going to win 99 out of 100 ballgames,” Shepherd said. “It’s just one of those fluke games.”
Poor pitching did in Post 210 on this day.
The opponent drew nine walks off four Speaker hurlers, and five free passes occurred with the bases loaded — all in a seven-run third inning for Post 389/750.
“As it kept going, the pitches got higher and the guys struggled finding the strike zone,” Shepherd said. “It wasn’t just one guy — it was all of them.”
The contest started typically enough. The sides traded first-inning tallies — Post 210’s on a Chase Rademacher single, and Post 389/750’s on a Tyler Bradford double.
After a scoreless second frame, however, crooked numbers hit the scoreboard with regularity.
The Speakers notched five runs in the third inning, three in the fourth and six in the fifth. Post 389/750 complemented its seven markers in the third inning with four more in the fourth and three in the fifth.
Ultimately, a lone piece of Post 389/750 sixth-inning production — Seth Dennis knocking in Conner Counterman with a two-out single — served as the difference.
“When we did throw it for strikes they hit it. They’re a decent-hitting team,” Shepherd said. “So cut the walks in half, we win the ballgame. There’s no doubt about it.”
Offense obviously wasn’t hard to come by for Post 210. The Speakers bashed 17 hits and drew five walks, with three RBI apiece from Rademacher, Chase Vinson and Trevor Davis leading the charge.
Post 210 is being put to a win-or-go-home test once again, as it was in the divisional playoffs.
The Speakers survived that scare. Their bid to do so on the regional stage begins at 11:30 a.m. today versus Gladwin County (Mich.) Post 171.
“These guys are graduated seniors, guys in college. They know they’ve just got to let it go and move forward and move on to the next game,” Shepherd said. “I’m sure we’ll bounce back.
“We’ve just got to keep hitting. You’re going to have games like this when you’ve played as many games as we have the last month, and we’ve just got to keep swinging it.”