By Mike Monahan
Mattoon left-hander Logan MacDonald will be a part of Green Wave trivia: Who won the first game on the new turf baseball field at MHS?
The senior threw 100 pitches and allowed four hits and one run in five and two-thirds innings to lead the Green Wave to a 4-1 victory Thursday.
“My change-up wasn’t there too much today, but my fastball was pretty consistent and worked for me,” said MacDonald of Mattoon’s fourth straight win and third consecutive over Teutopolis, a team that has won the Class 2A title four times in the last 13 seasons. “I really needed to step up and get back to throwing strikes and staying in the game longer. It was a big win and a step up for me. It was a good win for us.”
In the first inning Mattoon (6-8) started things when Blaine Powers walked on a full-count pitch. Kaiden Rice followed with a double down the right field line, scoring Powers. Cayden Knierim singled to right driving in Rice. Knierim advanced to second on a wild pitch by Wooden Shoe starter Sam Bushur and moved to third on a passed ball. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Zach Wetzel.
“The importance of coming out and establishing yourself in the first inning was evident tonight,” said Teutopolis coach Justin Fleener. “They punched us in the mouth early, coming out and putting three runs in the first.”
Both teams were retired in order once.
MHS added another run in the third when with one out Knierim was hit by a pitch on a full-count and with two outs he scored when Kaden Junge reached on an error.
Teutopolis was coming off a 16-13 13-inning win over Newton in a game in which they had 23 hits.
“We are kind of a rollercoaster right now,” said Fleener. “We have had good moments 23 hits against Newton. We seemed to struggle at the plate tonight. Overall, I think we are progressing, but we were disappointed with the loss.”
The Wooden Shoes threatened in the fifth when the first two batters, Caleb Siemer and Derek Konkle walked. After the fourth of five strikeouts for MacDonald, Busher was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then MacDonald got the next two to swing on the first pitch and it resulted in a pop up to MacDonald and flyball to second.
“I was trying to get a groundout or fly out,” said MacDonald. “I was just trying to throw strikes and make sure my team could get the outs for me.”
Mitch Althoff scored the lone run for Teutopolis reaching on an infield single, moving to second on a walk and third on a balk before scoring on a fly ball by Ben Goeckner.
Powers made a great catch in center field with sliding play to his right for the second out in the seventh and a runner on base.
All but two starters for Mattoon had a hit or a run scored. Rice was 2-for-3 with a double, a run and a run batted in.
“We are finally getting in the groove of things and making plays that we should make,” said MacDonald. “We are starting to get in the flow of everything.”
Mattoon will travel to Mount Vernon on Friday for a 4:30 p.m. game, one that was moved from Mattoon. The Green Wave also host Taylorville at 10 a.m. Saturday in an Apollo Conference doubleheader.
“One of the biggest things we are happy to get Logan on the mound,” said Kiger. “He was dialed in as much as he has been all year. He got to peak as far as pitches for a game this year and he didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I thought his walks (four) were close walks. They were not crazy off the screen or anything. He stayed dialed in and we were able to get ahead early which was a big opportunity that we have not done much.
Teutopolis (12-7) is a good ball club and they don’t make a lot of mistakes and do a lot of things right. We played well.”
Another thing that Kiger felt helped MacDonald is catcher Cooper Bergstrom.
“I think Cooper and Logan have a good relationship and they communicate well and there is a lot to having that positive relationship. Our pitchers have not had much of a chance to pitch with a lead lately. You get a guy out there pitching with a lead and the control is a little bit different.
Chandler Melton came in and did a great job. He is one of those guys who has really improved with his composure on the mound and being able to take control in a tough situation. This wasn’t easy to come in knowing that he was going to have to face the meat of the order in the next inning (seventh). To get the No. 9 batter and come back at the top of the order and tackle those guys.”
Teutopolis left 10 runners on base and had two caught stealing
“We tried to get going in many innings in the middle part and we put runners on, but then would fizzle,” said Fleener. “You have to come out and play well against a good program like Mattoon. We could never get over the hump. We get guys on and we are struggling for the big hit.”
As for the winning streak Kiger said, “The defense is helping the pitcher so they don’t have to throw a crazy number of pitches. For the last four games the one thing we have done is played good solid defense and had good pitching. Whatever changed their mindset we will take. We have got to continue to move forward.”
Winning pitcher: Logan MacDonald (1-2) 5 ⅔ innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts; save Chandler Melton 1 ⅓ innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
MATTOON: Blaine Powers run; Kaiden Rice 2-for-3, double, run, RBI; Cayden Knierim 1-for-1, sacrifice, 2 runs, RBI; Zach Wetzel 1-for-2, sacrifice fly, RBI; Kaden Jung 1-for-3; MacDonald 1-for-2; Luke Perry 1-for-3 stolen base; Slater Trier stolen base