STREATOR — Coal City experienced two things for the first time Monday — it competed in a regional baseball play-in game, and it competed in the Class 3A postseason.
Streator experienced something that plenty of teams have over the years — a lopsided playoff exit at the hands of the Coalers.
Coal City drilled the host Bulldogs 12-2 in what was a quarterfinal game in the 3A Ottawa Regional. Next up for the Coalers is a Wednesday game with top-seeded Morris, which swept them in two games by a combined score of 23-7.
“We’ve always had a bye,” Coal City coach Jerry McDowell said, “but here in our first time in 3A, we’re rated fifth of five teams. Nine of our games have been one or two run games that have gone against us. We’ve started to come around. We feel like we can play with Morris, and now we have our chance to do that.”
The Coalers scored four times in the first inning and chased Streator starter Colton Olson before they had made an out in the second. They got another run in the third and four in the fourth, and the Bulldogs did not plate either of their runs against Coalers pitcher Nate Chapman until the bottom of the fifth.
Coal City’s top two hitters, Austin McLuckie and Lane Cowherd, were a combined 8-for-8 in reaching base. They each went 3-for-3 with a walk and teamed up to score five runs. Cleanup hitter Dylan Hakey also had three hits, including a double, and three RBI.
Against a Streator team the Coalers defeated 22-11 last week, McLuckie said they knew every run could be important, even with a big lead.
“From what we saw in our last game with them, we knew we couldn’t do enough,” McLuckie said. “We knew they weren’t going to roll over for us. ... Every game can be your last game, so you don’t want to take any chances.”
Morris defeated Coal City 8-3 on April 13 and again by a 15-4 final on Saturday in a game that was scheduled only the night before. The Coalers used five pitchers in the game, including Chapman.
“We had a few options in terms of who we would start in (Monday’s) game, so we got a look at everybody,” McDowell. “Morris is a good team. They hit the ball, they’ve got pitching and they play good defense. ...The kids want another shot at them.”
“I want to beat (Morris) really bad,” McLuckie said.