STREATOR – Looking at just the hit column, Tuesday evening’s 11-0 Streator baseball victory over visiting Wilmington might be a bit of a head-scratcher, with the Diamond Dogs managing only one more hit, with five, than the Wildcats’ four on the day.
Scan over to the base on balls column, however, and that lopsided final score might make a bit more sense.
Streator’s hitters brought an ideal mix of patience and aggressiveness to the batter’s boxes at the SHS Athletic Fields, drawing 10 free passes from Wilmington pitching and doing damage – including batting .313 on the day – when they weren’t receiving walks on the way to an 11-0, five-inning Bulldogs victory.
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Streator's Parker Phillis (27) slides safely into home plate after a passed ball as Wilmington pitcher Tyler Willis waits for the return throw Tuesday at the SHS Athletic Fields. (Scott Anderson)
The win completed an Illinois Central Eight Conference sweep of Wilmington and elevated the Diamond Dogs to 8-2 overall, 7-1 in the IC8.
“It’s fun,” Bulldogs catcher Sean McGurk said, “and everybody wants to be here, which is great. I’ve been waiting to play with these guys since I was 9, 10 years old. Just having my best friends out here, our chemistry is perfect with each other.
“We say before every game that we’re locked in, and we mean it. We don’t think that anybody can beat us right now. It’s sophomores, freshmen, everybody’s contributing, and we’re all happy to see it.
“We want everybody to win on our team.”
Leadoff man Parker Phillis (three runs scored), cleanup hitter Logan Williamson (two runs), No. 6 batter Payton Benning (two runs) and starting/winning pitcher Adam Williamson (one run scored, RBI) drew two walks apiece. That set the table for the handful of Streator hits – most notably McGurk’s two-run hustle double right-center in the second and A.J. Benning’s pinch-hit, two-run single to center in the fourth – to do maximum damage.
“The boys were ready to play today,” said Streator coach Brennon Martin, filling on for head coach Beau Albert. “Adam came in on short notice to pitch and threw a gem, the defense played [well] behind him, and our bats as usual were ready to go.”:
Wilmington starter Tyler Willis (1 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 1 K) issued half of those 10 walks to suffer the loss.
“It didn’t help to have four or five walks early in the game. That hurt us big time,” Wilmington coach Mike Bushnell said after seeing his Wildcats fall to 1-5 both overall and in conference.
“To be honest, our guys need to bring a better energy. Hopefully something lights a fire under their butts a little bit and they get sick of this losing. ... I’ve seen it. They have it in them. It’s going to be up to those guys to pick it up.
“The walks can’t happen, and some of the mental mistakes I’ve seen in the past few days just can’t happen. I don’t want to make excuses, but maybe it’s a lack of practice. ... Finally tomorrow we get to have a practice, and we can go over some stuff and hopefully fix it.”
Meanwhile, Adam Williamson (5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K) walked only one and limited his four hits allowed to one each in the first, third, fourth and fifth innings. The last of the four was a Nolan Rickmon double to lead off the fifth, but the Streator sophomore preserved his shutout by inducing a routine ground ball to second and then striking out the final two batters looking with the Wildcats’ potential first run 90 feet away.
The Diamond Dogs are scheduled to visit Route 23 rival Ottawa for a Thursday game under the lights, with first pitch at King Field scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Wilmington also is slated to return to action Thursday, hosting Herscher to open a two-game IC8 set.