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Advance shuts down Oran
A deep basketball run into the state final four and a third-place finish had limited the defending district-champion Advance baseball team to just eight games heading into Wednesday's district championship rematch against Oran.
Any rust the visiting Hornets may have had seemed to shake off just fine Wednesday, as Advance stifled Oran's offense in a 4-1 win.
The Hornets moved to 7-2. Oran fell to 11-3.
"It has slowed our program down a little bit," Advance coach Bob Moses said of the basketball season, "but I don't care. We're just really proud of our basketball team and it's season. So if we take some lumps at the beginning of the season, we'll take that."
After a couple of early losses to district opponents Chaffee and Bell City, the Hornets have won six in a row. Advance lost just three games all of last season en route to knocking out Oran, which had appeared in three straight state final fours.
While the Class 1 district championship is the goal for both team, the coaches agreed Wednesday's matchup was a big game.
"If it's not a big game, why do you play," Moses said. "It's that simple. Is it the biggest game in the world? No. Is it the biggest game of the season for us? Yes. Any time you win, it's a big game."
Added Oran coach Mitch Wood: "It's definitely a big game, no doubt about it. We had a chance to control it and we didn't do a good job of it. No. 1, we're weren't the best team in the district at the start of the season. All their guys are back."
Among those returning were pitchers Jeremy Limbaugh and Trenton Moses. Both pitchers -- Limbaugh and Moses were also starters on the basketball team -- did their part on Wednesday to shut down Oran.
Limbaugh, the starter, kept the Eagles off balance through five innings of work with a steady diet of off-speed pitches. The senior struck out six and allowed six hits before being relieved by Moses. Oran had a baserunner on in all five innings of Limbaugh's work, but Limbaugh only walked one batter and was able to pitch his way out of trouble.
"Limbaugh threw the ball well," coach Moses said. "He stayed even and got ahead of a lot of batters. He walked one batter, that's the key."
Five of Oran's first nine batters struck out. One of those strikeouts ended a second-and-third threat in the bottom of the first for Oran, which had scored 36 runs in three wins against large-school competition at the Francis Howell Midwest Classic.
"I give credit to their pitcher," Wood said. "Their pitcher was better than our hitters today. We swung at bad pitches and didn't swing at good pitches."
Rusty Hendricks led off the game with a single against Oran starter Austin Dumey. Hendricks stole second and went to third when the throw sailed into the outfield. Trenton Moses hit a groundball to the shortstop to bring Hendricks home for a 1-0 lead.
Dumey did not allow another hit until the fourth, when the first three Advance hitters reached safely. Limbaugh, Daryl Wade and David VanGennip hit consecutive singles to push the lead to 2-0. Cody Roper, the No. 9 hitter, added to the lead with a sharp single off Dumey's foot for a 3-0 margin.
The Hornets chased Dumey in the fifth with three consecutive hits again from Limbaugh, Wade and VanGennip.
"His breaking ball wasn't working, and when your breaking ball's not working you're basically throwing BP [batting practice] out there, which isn't good," Wood said.
Oran's best offensive opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth, when the Eagles loaded the bases with one out. Limbaugh was able to induce groundballs from Oran's No. 3 and No. 4 hitters to get out of the inning.
Trenton Moses closed out the final two innings to nail down the win. Oran spoiled the shutout with a pair of hits and a run in the seventh.
"We're getting our stuff back, our rhythm," Bob Moses said. "We're getting back into our flow. We were playing games early on; it was our second and it would be their ninth. We were uncomfortable. We knew that was going to happen, we had to play through it.
"We've got a lot of work to do. We're still not there. We have a lot of work to do if we're going to do what we want to get done, but we took a big step today."
Oran and Advance both are scheduled to play in the Scott County Invitational which begins on Friday.
"You have to get ready every game," Wood said. "That's what I preach. We just basically did not get ready today. But we'll get ready the next time."
Advance 4, Oran 1
WP -- Jeremy Limbaugh. LP -- Austin Dumey, 3-1. 2B -- Limbaugh (A), David VanGennip (A), Caleb Seyer (O). Multiple hits -- Advance, Limbaugh 2-4; VanGennip 2-4; Daryl Wade 2-4. Records -- Advance 7-2, Oran 11-3.