Decatur second baseman Brandon Zimmerman went 3-for-3 with three doubles and two runs batted in, and starting pitcher Chris Carns threw four overpowering innings, limiting Wilson’s offense to just two hits as Decatur ended the Rams’ season with a 6-1 win in the 3A district playoffs on May 7 at Heidelberg Park.
“Just to see the progression of this young team during the course of this season, and the maturity that they gained, makes me really proud of their effort that they gave and will continue to give in 2014,” said Wilson head coach Doug Rupe.
While Carns was holding the Rams’ offense in check for four innings, Wilson starter Brady O’Keefe was also keeping the Gators’ offense from denting the scoreboard with a little help from his defense. Second baseman Matt Stortini preserved the scoreless tie in the third inning by diving to stop a grounder and throwing out the batter with a runner on second base.
Decatur finally got to O’Keefe in the fourth when Zimmerman stroked a two-run double down the right field line to break the scoreless tie, and a third run came around on an errant relay throw to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.
Wilson threatened in the fourth by putting runners on first and second with one out, but Matt Stortini would get picked off of first base and Nathan Sandoval struck out two batters later to end the inning.
“We shot ourselves (in the foot) twice, and for all intents and purposes it took us out of the game,” said Rupe.
Leading 4-0 in the sixth inning, the Gators put the nail in the coffin with a two-run inning that took the steam out of the Wilson dugout.
As they had been doing for most of the 2013 season, Wilson would leave everything they had on the field. Jared Horner lined a two-out single to right field to get the Rams on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, but the season would end one hitter later as thoughts would turn to the 2014 season.
“There’s a lot we can take away from this season, especially with the gradual improvement of our younger players throughout the season,” Rupe said.
With Sandoval being the only graduating player, there is a lot to look forward to next season. “We’ll put the ball in motion with our summer American Legion program and get started on 2014 a little early,” said Rupe. “We can’t wait for next year.”
By Steve Mullen