Quad Cities rally comes up short against Seneca

The 2014 Quad Cities All-Stars were comprised of players and coaches from Fayette, Glasgow, New Franklin and Salisbury. Pictured above in the All-Star team picture are (front row, l to r) Sam Syler, Trevor Henke, Spencer Bloss, Gavin Ramsey, Conner Bottoms; (middle row, l to r) Shay Himmelberg, Tommy Kopine, Dalton Johnson, Robby Robinson, Trace Thompson, Mason Stornello; (back row, l to r) Bill Pearman (coach), Aaron Wilder, Austin Jones, Hunter Rohlfing, Kale Harris and Heath Rohlfing (coach).

New Franklin pitcher Kale Harris throws a pick-off attempt to first base during the second inning Friday afternoon. Harris pitched three innings in relief of Spencer Bloss, throwing 13 first-pitch strikes to Caruthersville batters.

Fayette’s Robby Robinson shows a fake-bunt attempt to start Friday’s first round game of the state tournament against Caruthersville. Robinson went 1-for-3 at the plate in the game, driving in Quad Cities’ first run with an infield single to score Mason Stornello in the third inning.

Fayette’s Mason Stornello (right) receives a fist bump from Quad Cities coach Bill Pearman after advancing to third base on a wild pitch in the third inning against Caruthersville. Stornello scored a team-high three runs for Quad Cities during the state tournament at Harley Park in Boonville.

By Greg Jackson
Sports Editor

Rain truly put a damper on the weekend for the Quad Cities All-Stars, in more ways than one.

After holding the lead for four innings Saturday against Seneca in an elimination game of the 13-15 year-old Jr. Babe Ruth state tournament at Harley Park in Boonville, a two-hour rain delay halted the momentum for Quad Cities — an All-Star team consisting of players from Fayette, Glasgow, New Franklin and Salisbury.

Once the rain delay was over, Seneca took all the momentum, using a nine-run fifth inning to hand Quad Cities a 13-9 loss, its second of the tournament, eliminating the local All-Star team.

“We had a hard time getting our heads back into the game,” Quad Cities coach Heath Rohlfing said of his team after the rain delay.

Quad Cities lost its first-round game on Friday to Caruthersville 12-2 in five innings, falling into the loser’s bracket portion of the tournament.

Boonville won the state tournament on Monday night, finishing the tournament with an unblemished 4-0 record. Boonville defeated Poplar Bluff 12-2 in five innings to win the state championship, advancing to next week’s Midwest Plains regional tournament in Albia, Iowa.

In Saturday’s game against Seneca, Quad Cities scored six of its nine runs with two outs, and that pattern begin in the top of the first inning. With two runners on base and two outs, Kale Harris singled through the hole between the first and second basemen, driving in Dalton Johnson for the first run of the game.

After taking an early 1-0 lead, Quad Cities kept the offensive attack going in the second frame. The first four batters reached base in the inning, including Aaron Wilder, who was hit by a pitch to force in a run. Shay Himmelberg drove in another run on a fielder’s choice and Hunter Rohlfing also came around from second base to score on the play, extending the Quad Cities lead to 4-0.

The No. 7-10 hitters for Quad Cities came up big against Seneca, against for five of the team’s nine runs scored, as well as four RBIs.

“We tried to set up our lineup to where we didn’t have any dead spots,” Rohlfing said. “The kids in the bottom half hit really well.”

Quad Cities tacked on another run in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead. Harris started the inning with a single to left field and stole second base, one of six Quad Cities stolen bases. With two outs again, Tommy Kopine came off the bench as a pinch hitter and singled to right field, bringing in Harris for another run scored.

“We played a lot better than we did yesterday,” Rohlfing said. “We had fewer errors and we were putting the ball in play.”

Austin Jones pitched the first inning for Quad Cities and Trevor Henke came in to relieve him on the mound, striking out the side in the second inning. However, in the third inning, Seneca finally found its offensive groove.

Henke walked the first three Seneca batters he faced in the bottom of the third. A couple of Quad Cities errors allowed all three runs to score, as well as a fourth run to cut the lead to 5-4.

Seneca might have added a few more runs in the third, but Quad Cities second baseman Mason Stornello fielded a ground ball on the left side of second and tossed it to Johnson at second for a force out, potentially saving at least one run.

Henke was one strike from getting out of the fourth inning when the rain began to come down in Boonville. The delay lasted two hours and after the tarp was removed and the batters boxes and pitcher’s mound were tended to, play resumed. Henke struck out Seneca’s No. 10 batter to end the fourth, striking out the side yet again.

In the fifth inning, Seneca finally pushed through. The first seven batters of the inning reached base by either a walk or a single, and all seven scored as well. Seneca batters relentlessly worked the count against Quad Cities pitchers in the inning and Robby Robinson came in to relief Henke after allowing his eighth walk of the game.

Robinson struck out the side, but also walked three batters. By the end of the inning, Seneca had sent 13 batters to the plate and added nine runs, taking a 13-5 lead with 13 unanswered runs scored.

Dalton Johnson, Quad Cities’ fourth pitcher of the game, threw a scoreless sixth inning, stranding the bases loaded. Down to its last three outs, Quad Cities needed to score eight runs to get back into the game.

The All-Stars took advantage of a dropped fly ball in the seventh inning and made Seneca pay for the mistake. Ramsey, who reached base on the error, scored on a wild pitch, trimming the deficit to 13-6.

Trace Thompson and Stornello drew walks and scored on a two-run single hit back up the middle by Jones. The next batter, Hunter Rohlfing, singled to left field to score Jones. Seneca’s lead had now been cut in half to 13-9.

However, the two-out rally was halted with a strikeout to end the game and the season for Quad Cities.

“It would have been nice to have had two more innings,” Rohlfing said. “I think we were starting to put it back together and getting back into the game, but we just ran out of gas.”

Henke took the loss on the mound for Quad Cities, allowing 10 runs on eight hits with six strikeouts.
At the plate, Harris and Rohlfing each had mulit-hit games. Harris finished with two singles and one RBI, while Rohlfing had a single, a double to deep left field in the third inning and one RBI as well.

Jones, Kopine and Stornello each had one single in the game. Kopine had one RBI and Jones drove in two runs.

Friday’s game against Caruthersville was the first of 14 games played in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. In each of the first two innings, Quad Cities was one pitch from getting out of an inning without allowing a run, but timely hitting allowed Caruthersville to build a 6-0 after two frames.

In the first inning, Ian Torrey’s two-out, two-run double to deep left field put Caruthersville ahead 2-0. Then, in the second, an error, a hit batsman and a two-run double by David Cook helped four more runs score for Caruthersville, which finished in third place in the tournament.

“We had a few errors and could’ve picked up our pitcher a little bit better, but all in all, the kids played pretty decent,” Rohlfing said.

Quad Cities played a practice game against Boonville last Sunday, but for many players on the team, Friday was their first organized game in nearly a month, since the end of the league’s regular season.

The players got into a rhythm after the first time through the batting order. Stornello reached on an error in the third inning and later scored on an infield single by Robinson, who legged out a high chopper to the second baseman to cut Caruthersville’s lead to 6-1.

Quad Cities added another run in the fourth inning as well. Rohlfing hit a one-out single to left field and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt. After a two-out walk to Harris, Gavin Ramsey singled to left field to score Rohlfing.

Caruthersville tacked on another run in the third inning and scored four times in the fourth. The game ended in the bottom of the fifth inning by mercy rule, when Caruthersville scored its 12th run on a one-out single to left field.

Spencer Bloss took the loss on the pitcher’s mound for Quad Cities. Bloss threw the first inning, allowing two runs on two hits. Harris pitched the next three innings and Jones started the fifth inning for the All-Stars. Harris walked two and struck out one batter.

At the plate, Quad Cities finished the game with four hits. Robinson, Johnson, Rohlfing and Ramsey each had one hit, while Robinson and Ramsey each had one RBI.

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