CRESTWOOD — Coal City's baseball team couldn't have scripted a better beginning Monday for the Coalers in the Class 3A Crestwood Supersectional at Standard Bank Stadium.
Unfortunately, the Coalers did not keep up the momentum of an auspicious start and dropped a 6-5 decision to St. Ignatius.
Coal City leadoff man Payton Hutchings drove the second pitch he saw off the padding on top of the right-field fence and ended up at third with a triple. The next hitter, Keegan Gagliardo, hit one to nearly the same place and ended up with the same result, a triple, and Coal City led, 1-0. Blake Harseim followed with an infield single to plate courtesy runner Drew Moir and the Coalers led 2-0.
Austin Pullara walked before a fly to right by Beau Wills moved Harseim to third. Pullara then broke for second and got caught in a rundown as Harseim raced home to score. The throw to get Pullara at second was wide and he was safe. Austin Friddle then singled to left to score Pullara and give the Coalers a 4-0 lead.
"We felt pretty good after that first inning," Coal City coach Greg Wills said. "We had four runs and Keegan Gagliardo on the mound, who had an ERA under 1.00 entering the game."
St. Ignatius got a run in the bottom of the first, as an RBi single by Dominic Fisher scored Nicolas Rosa Palermo, who had singled and reached second on a wild pitch.
Coal City then went ahead, 5-1, in the top of the third when Friddle doubled with two outs and came home to score on a single by Jack Bunton.
That was all that St. Ignatius relief pitcher Chip Valentine, who came on to start the second inning, allowed to the Coalers.
"Their guy came in and threw strikes," Wills said. "He mixed it up enough to keep us off balance and he didn't give us free bases with walks."
The Wolfpack started a hit parade in the bottom of the fourth that didn't stop until they had the lead. Fisher led off with a double and went to third on a single by Will McManaman. Ryan Dziekan hit a pop foul to the first base side, but it was dropped. Dziekan then slugged a triple to right that scored Fisher and McManaman to make it 5-3. After a strikeout, Joseph Loftus grounded to second and Dziekan beat the throw home to cut the Coaler edge to 5-4. After a strikeout, Brian Gannon singled to right, sending courtesy runner Emmanuel Scott to third. Rosa Palermo followed with a triple to left-center, scoring Scott and Gannon, but he was out after oversliding third.
"Give St. Ignatius credit," Wills said. "They hit the ball. They hit it in gaps and over our heads. It's not like we gave it away with a bunch of errors and walks. They came out and won the game."
The Coalers mounted a rally with two outs in the top of the seventh. Connor Best hit a ground-rule double to left and Beau Wills reached on an error to put runners on first and third. Wills took off for second, hoping to create a rundown, but St. Ignatius let him go to second. Friddle then hit a grounder to second to end the game.
"We had a chance in the last inning," Greg Wills said. "We tried a first-and-third play, but they just let Beau go. Austin hit the ball on the nose, but it was just right at them."
The Coalers tied a school record with their 34 wins and will say goodbye to seniors Harseim, Wills, Friddle, Sean Micetich, Justin Dabulskis, Brendan Nevin, Carter Copes, Kaleb Spreitzer, and Danny Phillips.