By PAUL HINES
---- — BLUFORD – Webber’s baseball team had a chance to send Friday’s matchup with Gallatin County into extra innings.
The Trojans entered their final at-bat down 5-4 but came up short.
“It was a good matchup,” Webber coach Sam Root said. “I feel like two of the best 1A teams in southern Illinois.”
Gallatin County pushed across what would be the winning run in the sixth inning. Marcus Wargel opened the inning with a single off Webber reliever Logan Ganieany. He stole second and scored on a double to the left-center field gap off the bat of Wes McGuire. The score gave Gallatin County a 5-4 lead.
“When you play some of the best teams, we have to be cleaner defensively,” Root said. “One or two plays are going to get you. We have to much cleaner defensively.”
Webber had a chance in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game. Levi Aydt knocked a two-out single and moved into scoring position when the Gallatin outfielder mishandled the ball. Austin Gowler stood at the plate looking for a game-tying single but fanned to end the game.
Gowler tied the game at four in the fifth inning with a single and drew a bases loaded walk to put the Trojans on the scoreboard in the opening inning. He finished with a hit, walk and two RBI.
“We had a couple opportunities, and we saw good pitching today,” Root said.
Both starting pitchers struggled with their control in the early going as the teams traded a trio of runs in the opening inning.
Webber starter Jordan Wheeler walked a pair of batters in the top of the first, and Gallatin pushed across three runs to jump out to an early lead.
The Trojans responded in the bottom of the first with a patient approach. The Trojans coaxed four walks against Gallatin starter Zach McGuire. Three came with the bases loaded, allowing Webber to tie the game.
Wheeler pitched four innings and had six strikeouts in the game. He finished with five walks. Logan Ganieany and Chris Bush also saw time on the mound for the Trojans.
“That’s one of the very best lineups we’re going see, even if we make a big run in the postseason, it’s one of the best lineups we’ll see,” Root said.
Webber played the game without Rend Lake College signee Ty Henderson because of injury.
Webber dropped to 18-7 overall this season. Gallatin County improved to 18-3 this year.