GCMS baseball wins 2-1 in extra innings over Blue Ridge

GIBSON CITY -- For more than one reason, it would have been understandable if the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley baseball team was not ready to play Monday's game against Blue Ridge.
Despite a cold day that started with snow on the ground, and the untimely death of one of its team members two days prior, GCMS defeated Blue Ridge 2-1 in eight innings.
“We had every excuse in the book to come out flat and not play very good baseball today, but we were ready to go," GCMS head coach Dustin White said. "We're just super-excited about the outcome and how things went. That's a huge effort.”
The Falcons went into the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 1-0 after Blue Ridge scored its lone run in the top of the seventh. 
Dane Houser reached base on an error to lead off the inning. After Sam Duggins and Keegan Lyle each walked, Jacob Mozingo sent Houser home with a sacrifice fly ball to left field.
That unearned run was the only one given up by GCMS starting pitcher Nathan Garard, who struck out 10 batters while giving up only one hit and two walks.
Duggins, meanwhile, gave up one earned run on four hits and one walk while striking out 11 batters for Blue Ridge as each starting pitcher was credited with a no-decision.
"Nathan Garard gave us an excellent effort today," White said. "It was just a fabulous effort out of him.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Alec Johnson got on base with an infield single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.
Nathan Daughenbaugh sent Johnson home for the game-tying run with a line-drive single to center field.
“We got a couple of big hits that we needed in that seventh inning," White said. "Alec Johnson stood up and got a base hit to lead the inning off. Nathan Daughenbaugh got a couple of big hits for us last year and kind of continues that streak of being a gamer at the end.”
Garard was relieved in the top of the eighth inning by Braden Roesch.
After Logan Smithson reached base on an error to lead off the inning, Roesch caught a pop fly for the first out and forced Houser grounded into a fielder's choice for the second out.
After Aaron Jayne walked, Duggins flied out in foul territory to right fielder Daniel Jones for the third out.
"(Roesch) came in and did a nice job," White said. “It was a big effort by both (of our) pitchers."
Jones walked to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out, Garard reached base via an error at shortstop to put runners on second and third base.
Cade Elliott was intentionally walked to load the bases for Nick Tabor. 
Tabor smacked a 2-2 pitch into center field for a sacrifice flyout, sending Jones across home plate for the game-winning run.
“We found a way to get on base and get a guy over," White said. "Tabor hit the ball hard all day, and hit it just far enough to get the game winner. Sometimes, it's not the most pretty way to win, but you win, and we'll take it. Today was one of those days when we would have taken any win we could have gotten.”
As the Falcons manufactured their game-winning run in the eighth inning, tiny snowflakes dropped on GCMS's baseball field at GCMS Middle School. 
“It was nice to get it over," White said. "I don't know if we could have played another inning if we don't get that extra run, so it was nice to get the win.”
The eight innings were played on Monday despite the field being blanketed with snow that morning, and despite temperatures near -- or even below -- the 40-degree range.
“This morning, I didn't think we were going to play baseball today. We had all the snow on the ground, but our guys worked hard on the field today. Our guys at school, (including) our athletic director (Mike Allen) came out and did some work on the field to give us a chance to play today, and it was something we needed," White said.
Monday's game was the Falcons' first home contest since March 19 as well their first game in April.
"We needed to play baseball today," White said. "The kids were really fired up and really enthused today. It's been what seems like almost two weeks since we had a game. We needed to play baseball and played pretty well today. I was really happy with our guys.”
As the field was getting prepared for Monday's game, the groundskeeping efforts included the drawing of the initials "DB" behind home plate.
Prior to Monday’s game, members of the GCMS and Blue Ridge baseball teams met on the mound for a moment of silence as, GCMS High School Principal Chris Garard said over the public address announcement system, “we honor Dylan (Benningfield) and pray for Logan (Benningfield’s) recovery." 
Dylan Benningfield, a player for GCMS, was killed in a car accident on Saturday on his way to practice. Dylan’s brother, Logan, was with him in the accident and is currently at Carle Hospital in Champaign.
“It was a tough couple of days for everybody around here, and the baseball team. Some of these guys were really good friends with him," White said. "We had a meeting today, and there were some things we wanted to do to honor our fallen teammate. We had some good ideas. The kids really had some good things to say. I'm really happy with them.”
With the win on Monday, GCMS improved to 2-5 overall and 2-0 in the Heart of Illinois Conference. 
“It gives us a chance right now to win the conference, and that's an exciting place for us," White said.
The Falcons are scheduled to host HOIC foe Lexington on Wednesday before hosting Westville in a non-conference game on Thursday and playing conference game against El Paso-Gridley on Friday and Ridgeview the following Monday.
GCMS 2, Blue Ridge 1
BR 000   000   10   -- 1   1   2
GCMS 000   000   11   -- 2   4   3
W -- Braden Roesch, IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, BB. L -- Dane Houser, 0.2 IP, 0 H, R, 0 ER, K, 2 BB.
Blue Ridge -- Keegan Lyle 1-2. Jacob Mozingo RBI. Houser R.
GCMS (2-5, 2-0) -- Cade Elliott 1-3. Nick Tabor 1-3, RBI. Alec Johnson 1-3, R. Nathan Daughenbaugh 1-3, RBI. Daniel Jones R.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Baseball, Sports


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