After watching his pitching staff issue 11 walks Sunday at the American Legion Great Lakes Regional, Edwardsville Post 199 manager Ken Schaake was ecstatic to be preparing for another game Monday.
Edwardsville advanced with an 8-6 victory over Plover, Wis., as Danny Robertson drove in three runs and Drew Curtis gained the save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
"It was a tough one today. It wasn't pretty but the outcome is the big thing," said Schaake, whose 36-7 club will play Napoleon, Ohio (45-18) at 3 p.m. Monday in Terre Haute, Ind., needing two wins to advance to the Legion World Series. "They're competitors and they know what's at stake. They're buying into the opportunity they have.
"They want to have more success and want to continue to play."
Edwardsville suffered its lone regional tournament loss Saturday to Napoleon, falling 10-4. Napoleon came from behind Sunday to defeat Midland, Mich., 9-8 in 10 innings and remain unbeaten at the regional.
Edwardsville's massive amount of pitching depth could factor into Monday's proceedings. Ace right-hander Jevon Boyd, who threw five shutout innings in the regional opener, will get the start and Missouri State recruit Cole Hagen and Southwestern Illinois College recruit Zack Sparks also are available should Edwardsville need to play two games.
"We're fortunate that we do have the pitchers that will help us to survive and do well," Schaake said. "We've got three pitchers and Curtis will be able to throw again, because he didn't throw that many pitches (Sunday)."
Edwardsville was seemingly cruising to an easy win Sunday after scoring two runs in the first and five more in the third to build a 7-0 lead.
Jevon Boyd had an RBI single in the first inning and Robertson did the most damage in the third with a two-out, bases-loaded double into the left-field corner.
That knocked out Plover starter Ryan Mukuski, who allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings before reliever Zack Wallner quieted the Edwardsville bats.
Plover (39-10) climbed back into the game with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, taking advantage of seven walks from Edwardsville starter Matt Boivin.
Boivin allowed seven hits and three runs, striking out one.
Edwardsville got an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on Matt Huelsmann's RBI single that scored Chase McPeak.
But Plover wouldn't go away, scoring three times during Edwardsville hurler Alex Lay's three innings of relief.
After a leadoff double by pinch-hitter Connor Zblewski leading off the ninth, Schaake brought in Curtis hoping the big right-hander would help his team avoid elimination.
Curtis -- a St. Louis University recruit who hadn't pitched since the championship game of the Fifth Division Tournament --gained the save on two ground balls and a fly ball and Edwardsville had survived.
"Curtis was outstanding and all our guys battled hard," Schaake said. "He came in and really shut the door. Drew had been wanting to pitch for quite a while and he pitched really well today."
Schaake said Robertson has been hitting the ball hard without much success, so the three-run double was a big confidence booster.
"He had the big hit today," Schaake said. "We have not had to rely on any one individual to carry the team or get the key hit. We've had people from top to bottom do the job for us and help us out."
The eight regional winners from around the country advance to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.