BUSSEY — The Lynnville-Sully baseball team didn’t win its first conference title since 2001 by walking a bunch of batters on the mound and committing too many errors in the field.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they did those things in a season-ending loss to Moravia on Thursday during Class 1A District 11 semifinal action at Twin Cedars High School.
Three Lynnville-Sully pitchers combined to walk 10 batters and the Hawk defense committed four errors during a 10-6 loss to the Mohawks.
“We just struggled to get the ball across the plate and to make defensive plays, but we kept battling,” Lynnville-Sully coach Bob Scandridge said. “That’s what I am most proud of. I am not going to let this game dictate how our season went. The kids still had a fantastic season.”
Scandridge was forced to say goodbye to a strong group of seniors earlier than he had hoped to. Caden Dunsbergen, Isaac Collins and Tyler Van Zante were part of a five-win season just five years ago. They said goodbye to the program with a conference title this season.
“It’s the sudden stop at the end that hurts. This year is no different,” Scandridge said. “I have been a part of this a lot, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I will miss these kids. They put a lot into the program. We have gotten better each year the last four years.”
The Hawks fell behind early after Moravia plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Van Zante started on the mound and walked the first two batters he faced. The Mohawks scored two runs on one hit, three walks and two Hawk errors.
After Lynnville-Sully stranded a pair of runners on base in the first, the Hawks (16-8) closed within one run in the second. Corbin James reached on an error and then scored on another Mohawk error.
The Hawks left the bases loaded, trailing 2-1.
After Van Zante got threw the second inning with no damage, Moravia added to its lead in the third with a pair of runs. The Mohawks recorded back-to-back singles with one out and then scored on another Hawk error.
“We put ourselves in a hole, and they just digging and clawing their way back into it,” Scandridge said. “And if you are going to be a man, that’s what you do. Sometimes life is tough like this. But I never questioned their heart.”
The heart showed up in the fourth when L-S tied the game with a trio of runs. Collins started the frame with a single and then Dunsbergen walked. Junior Carson Dunsbergen singled to load the bases before an RBI walk by junior Elijah Collins made it 4-2.
Van Zante closed the gap to one with an RBI single and then freshman Bray Noun Harder tied the game with an RBI fielder’s choice.
“I told the kids I was proud of them because we didn’t bring our best game over here today and we made some mistakes and didn’t play clean of a game as we wanted to, but they battled and came back from an early hole,” Scandridge said.
The Hawks were unable to get over the hump against the Mohawks. The offense wasn’t the issue. They scored six runs on nine hits but stranded nine runners on base.
Moravia (22-7) came right back after the Hawks’ big inning with big inning of its own. The Mohawks sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs on just one hit. Van Zante was chased on the mound in favor of junior Josh Dunsbergen, but the duo walked four in the frame and the defense committed another error.
Van Zante (5-4) wound up taking the loss on the mound after allowing six runs — three earned — on five hits with five walks and one strikeout in three innings.
“The walks are not like Tyler, but some of that may have been the amount of time he had off. He hadn’t pitched in over a week,” Scandridge said. “He also got his hand stepped on tonight trying to break up a double play. if this would have been a regular season game, he would have been out. His hand is swollen pretty bad.”
“He tried to battle through it. I probably should have taken him out sooner.”
Josh Dunsbergen threw the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on no hits but had five walks. Freshman Blaize Kuhlmann tossed the final 1 1/3 innings and surrendered two earned runs on two hits with no walks and one strikeout.
Lynnville-Sully gave itself a chance at a late-inning rally with a pair of runs in the fifth. Josh Dunsbergen led off the frame with a bunt single, and he moved up a base following a one-out walk by Kuhlmann.
Caden Dunsbergen brought the Hawks within 8-5 with an RBI single and then Kuhlmann scored on a wild pitch to close the gap to 8-6.
Unfortunately, Moravia came right back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Mohawks closed the door with two runs on two hits.
Caden Dunsbergen, Josh Dunsbergen and James all had two hits apiece to lead the offense. Caden Dunsbergen and Josh Dunsbergen both walked once, too. Carson Dunsbergen had one hit and walked twice.
Moravia faces Colfax-Mingo in the district championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday in Bussey. The winner of that game plays in the substate final at 7 p.m. Tuesday.