Smithton ends Hilgards’ season with District 22 playoff win

Bobby Tedesco drove in Joe Wolf with a sacrifice fly to break a 3-all tie in the eighth inning as Smithton went to defeat Bellleville 5-4 on Thursday in the American Legion District 22 playoffs.

Entering the game in relief of starting pitcher Jeremy Wade in the fifth inning, Wolf led off the inning with a single and went to third base seconds later when Wade, who moved over to play first base, laced a double off Hilgards pitcher Sam Bernosky.

Tedesco then broke the tie with his sacrifice fly. Wade scored later in the inning on a wild pitch by the Hilgards’ third pitcher of the night, Cole Hensel.

The Hilgards rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning but had the potential tying run thrown out in a rundown between third base and home plate to end the game.

“It was a wild one. It had a little bit of everything didn’t it?” Smithton manager Dean Neuner said. “I was hoping we would get the big hit there in the end, and we did.”

The win advances Smithton into an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Highland.

Highland fell into the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament Thursday when it dropped a 2-1 decision to the Metro East Bears.

The winner of the Highland-Smithton game will advance to take on the Bears in the title game Saturday. That winner must beat the Bears twice to claim the District 22 championship.

Smithton, which lost to the Bears 9-2 on Wednesday, took an early 3-0 lead against Belleville starter Jake Frazier. With two outs in the first inning, Joe Range singled and scored on a two-run home run by Jordan Fritz.

“It was a bit hit by Jordan,” Neuner said. “He hit a home run the first game of the high school season, but hadn’t hit one since. I told him he (chose) a good time to hit another one.”

A two-out single by John Hilpert in the second inning increased the Smithton lead to 3-0. But the Hilgards fought back.

Tyler Brinkman drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second to score the Hilgards’ first run. Ty Shylanski added RBIs in the third and fifth innings to tie the score at 3.