By Mike Monahan

Effingham’s Josh McDevitt, a Missouri commit, threw four perfect innings in the opener of Saturday’s Apollo Conference doubleheader.

But Mattoon rallied to score three runs in the sixth inning against reliever Quest Hill for the 3-1 victory. The Greenwave lost the second game, 7-3.

Mattoon coach Jarod Kiger said a pitching machine cannot simulate the speed and movement of McDevitt’s pitches.

“That kid does so many good things,” he said. “He is as advertised when you watch him pitch.”

McDevitt, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander who throws in the 90s mph, struck out nine before several Major League Baseball scouts in a game that had been moved up 90 minutes to 9:30 a.m. due to the threat of rain.

As a junior McDevitt was 6-4 and threw 51⅓ innings and allowed 28 hits and 15 earned runs with 23 walks and 83 strikeouts. 

What do you do when a pitcher is on like that?

“I wasn’t upset by their approach,” said Kiger. “When you watch a good pitcher pitch, that is what they do. They keep you on your toes. I told them ‘You just have to have a good approach. W atch the ball’

The Greenwave did not have a baserunner until the sixth inning.

Hull had struck out the side in the fifth in his first inning of relief. But in the sixth, Kaden Junge and Jason Skocy each singled to center and advanced a base on an error. With one out, Madden Johnson walked to load the bases.

Slater Tier, who led MHS in batting entering the game at .435, was then hit by a pitch to force in a run.

An out later, junior Owen Hawkins got the pitch ever was looking for and drove a single to right to score two more runs.

“I was actually thinking curveball and it was an outside fastball,” Hawkins said. “So I took it right field. I am glad I went opposite field. I was 0-for-2 (two strikeouts) going into the at-bat. I was a little low on confidence so that hyped me up.”

Sophomore Joseph Stewart walked the leadoff batter, but turned a double play to help shut down Effingham in the seventh inning.

“I was really proud of our guys to continue to kind of grind through that game,” said Kiger. “It is hard when you go up and the outcome was almost inevitable in how he (McDevitt) was throwing today. He was really on. I was really proud of our guys to keep going, keep going and end up taking away a victory against a good solid team.”

Jackson Helms scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run in a 103-pitch effort. Effingham strained eight runners on base.

With the split, Mattoon is 4-7 overall and 2-2 in the Apollo Conference, tied for third with Charleston and Lincoln. Effingham is 6-9, 2-4.

“A split is better than losing two, and we are proud about that,” said Hawkins. “Joseph Stewart pitched well. His fastball was up there and his slider was pretty good, and he is a sophomore and so has two more years to go.”

In the second game Mattoon trailed just 2-1 before Effingham scored four in the fourth. 

“We kind of let it get away from us,” said Kiger. “We had a tough situation. We had to sub a guy in that we were not prepared to sub in at that time. That puts a pitcher in a pretty tough spot. I am not a pitcher, but those guys have a routine they go through and they have find their groove. Eventually he (Johnson) got it, but they had touched him for key runs at that point.”

Jarret Muchow took the loss. 

“He is a great pitcher for us and he was really kind of dialed in,” said Kiger. “But you could see there were some things that were not right mechanically today. I always tell the kids ‘It is a communication thing.’ I don’t know how you are feeling so I can’t say. Pitchers are a special breed as far as their mentality. He just had some arm fatigue and so we had to rush in Johnson, who didn’t get a chance to get a routine. It is nothing that no one else has to deal with.”

Mattoon made it 6-3 with two runs in the fifth.

It was 7-3 when the Greenwave threatened in the seventh. 

Stewart singled to left to start the inning, Trier singled to center and Knierim walked to load the bases with no one out. However, the next two batters struck out and the game ended on a grounder to shortstop.

“As always, I tell our guys: At the end of the game, you want to give yourself an opportunity to win,’” said Kiger.

Mattoon travels to Newton on Tuesday.