EFFINGHAM — Ben Hecht hadn’t pitched since Friday, Sept. 21, in St. Anthony’s first of two games against Teutopolis, a 1-0 loss to the Wooden Shoes.
He didn’t show any signs of rust on Monday, pitching for the first time in 10 days against St. Elmo in the quarterfinals of the fall National Trail Conference baseball tournament.
This time, the results were a little bit different for Hecht. He again allowed only one run, but this time his teammates were putting the bat on the ball en route to a 9-1 victory.
Hecht pitched four innings, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out seven Eagle batters.
St. Anthony coach Kenny Miller said that, after such a long layoff, he basically had to start Hecht on Monday in order to keep him sharp for a potential championship game appearance on Friday.
“He needed to throw today,” Miller said. “I’m glad he got to throw four innings to tune up for Friday.”
The Bulldogs scored two runs in the second inning, three in the third, one in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth as part of a balanced offensive attack.
St. Anthony picked up two runs in the second via bases-loaded walks. Miller said he would have rather had his team use its bats to drive in the runs rather than relying on a pitcher’s inconsistency.
“Will we take the runs? Yes, but we need to swing the bats,” he said. “I would rather drive the runs in than have them gifted to me.”
Neil Williams led the way for the Bulldogs at the plate, going 3 for 3 with a walk. He scored three times and also drove in two.
“Neil’s come up with some big hits all year and he always fields the ball well,” Miller said.
He added that seeing Williams hit the ball to the opposite field was a good sign.
“I know he went the other way a couple times,” Miller said. “I was trying to get people to hit that way.”
Jacob Lorenz also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 2 with three walks. He added an RBI and a run scored.
Eli Dasenbrock picked up a hit and two RBI for the Bulldogs.
Connor Beasley had one of the two St. Elmo hits and scored the only run for the Eagles. Garrett Bartels picked up the other hit.
Levi Maxey pitched four innings for the Eagles, taking the loss. He allowed three earned runs, six hits and five walks while striking out three Bulldog batters.
St. Anthony advanced to the semifinals, where it will play Stew-Stras on Wednesday. St. Elmo will play Windsor in the consolation bracket on Wednesday.
In other quarterfinal action, Neoga used a four-run sixth inning to top Altamont 4-3. Tyler Romack pitched a complete game, striking out 11 to pick up the victory.
Stew-Stras advanced to the second round and will visit St. Anthony after slipping past Windsor 4-3 Monday.
The Dieterich-South Central game was canceled and rescheduled for today at 4 p.m.