The Class A No. 3 Trinity Lutheran baseball team capped-off a succesful regular season with a pair of wins against Eastern (Pekin) on Saturday.
Trinity opened with an 11-3 win and held on for a 1-0 victory to sweep the doubleheader.
With the wins, Trinity finished the regular season at 16-7 — the second-best in school history and one shy of tying the record.
The Cougars are three short of tying the most wins for a season at the school, including postseason play.
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“They’ve come a long way,” Cougars coach Bob Tabeling said of his team. “If you look at the beginning of last season to this year, there was a tremendous jump.
“Their attitude and approach stayed strong throughout the year. It took a lot to get them shook. They had a lot of confidence in themselves. We know if we do the small, fundamental things we can win ball games.”
In game two of the DH, Chandler Reynolds scored the Cougars’ lone run in the second inning off an RBI by Bobby Tabeling.
Jake Moore pitched five innings with 10 strikeouts while giving up five hits.
Ross Kruse took the mound for an inning and Sam Crick got the save for the Cougars.
Both teams had five hits in the game.
“(Eastern’s) pitcher threw a heck of a game, we struggled to get the bat on the ball,” coach Tabeling said. “Defense has been our thing all year long. That was our sixth or seventh shutout. Our pitchers did really well, with Jake Moore pitching five good innings, Ross (Kruse) coming in and Sam (Crick) closing.”
The first game, the Cougars opened with five runs in the first inning.
Trinity then scored two in the second inning, one for the third and three in the fourth.
Eastern tallied a pair of runs in the fourth to avoid being run-ruled and one in the seventh.
The Cougars out-hit Pekin 9-6 in the game.
Jacob Schult had a pair of singles with three RBI and Kruse, Nick Mensendiek and Aden Jones managed two RBI each.
Schult tossed 12 strikeouts for the Cougars in six innings while giving up four hits and two earned runs while Crick picked up the save.
“In that first game, we swung the bats really well,” Tabeling said. “We had good, clutch base hits. We gave up a couple runs, but Schult threw the ball really well. I think that makes him 7-1 on the season — we seem to play really good defense when he’s on the mound for us.”
Wednesday, the Cougars will face Orleans at 5 p.m. at the Class A West Washington sectional
Crothersville and West Washington will take the diamond following the opening game.
Tabeling said that his team’s defense will prove the difference in the postseason.
“I think that it’s going to be about throwing strikes in our sectional,” Tabeling said. “We need to apply pressure on the opposing team. I think we can score runs, but it will be how our pitching stars off and how the defense plays.
“I anticipate that they will do well, everyone knows you have to swing the bat at sectional time and we’re going to work on our defense (today) and Tuesday to get ready.”
On the mound, Schult will get the start to commence postseason play.
Trinity has three sectional championships: 2009, 2011 and 2013.
The sectional championship game will take place on May 30, Memorial Day, at 6 p.m.