COAL CITY — Blake Harseim allowed a run in the top of the first inning Monday in Coal City's 7-4 Interstate Eight Conference win over the Sentinels.
It didn't take long for him to get it back.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Keegan Gagliardo walked, bringing Harseim to the plate. The senior got an 0-2 pitch he liked and skied it toward left field. The healthy wind blowing in that direction took over and carried the ball out of the park for a two-run homer and a 2-1 Coal City lead. The Coalers (19-4, 9-1) tacked on another run in the inning to go ahead 3-1 after one.
Westmont answered in the top of the third when Bobby Risden led off with a home run to cut the Coalers' lead to 3-2, and threatened to do more. The Sentinles loaded the bases with no outs, and Riley Basit tapped a grounder in front of the plate. The ball looked like it may go foul, but stayed on the third-base line. Harseim was quick off the mound and got to it, then flipped it to catcher Austin Pullara for a force out. Harseim then struck out the next batter, but then threw a pitch that got past Pullara. Pullara, however, got to the ball quickly and threw home to Harseim, who tagged out the runner trying to score.
The game was filled with atypical Coaler miscues in the field. Twice Harseim struck out a batter, only to see the hitter reach base on an error trying to get him at first. Coal City finished with four errors in the contest.
"This was not one of our sharpest games," Coal City coach Greg Wills said. "We haven't played like that in the field all year. It was just an ugly game. It's nice when an ugly game goes in the left-hand column, though.
"You hate to put a pitcher in that position where he has to get extra outs and throw extra pitches. But Blake did a good job of getting out of some jams."
In the top of the fifth, Westmont had a run in and no outs with runners on second and third. Harseim then induced a fly to shallow right, then struck out the next two batters to end the threat with no more harm done. He then had four strikeouts in the next inning as the leadoff hitter reached on a dropped third strike. He finished with 11 strikeotus and allowed five hits.
The Coalers got single runs in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Brendan Nevin - scoring Pullara, who had doubled - and in the fifth a sacrifice fly by Pullara, scoring Gagliardo, who led off the inning with a triple. The Coalers added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Gagliardo and n error on a ball hit by Harseim.
"We got the 'W' and that's the important thing," Wills said. "It was nice to see us answer every time they scored. We'd like to have a good week this week heading into the regional seedings."