SALEM, Ill. — After two wins over the weekend in the district tournament here, Mt. Carmel 11-year-old all-star baseball coach Craig Halbig knows how close his team is to the prize.
“The big focus now is on the flag,” Halbig said, meaning the championship banner that is now as close as one game away for the lone undefeated team remaining.
Mt. Carmel gets a day off today, and will play Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the winner of tonight’s game between Olney and the Lawrence County-Salem winner from late Sunday.
On Saturday, the 11s opened with a 31-4 crushing of Lawrence County. Though three home runs in the first inning sent an early message, Halbig was most impressed with the cumulative offense. “We had 24 hits,” said Halbig, taking note of six batters with multiple hits.
Bret Doan was 5-of-6 at the plate with a home run, while Clayton Halbig and Ashton Walker each had four hits. Adam Stoneberger had three hits, while Drew Gill and Cade Newkirk added two each.
Wood and Connor Lane added homers in the game.
A pitching committee allowed just two Lawrence County hits.
Gill started, later relieved by Newkirk, Stoneberger and Halbig.
Managing the pitch count meant all hurlers were still available for Sunday’s second-round game against Olney.
“We were able to save our pitchers for the Olney game,” Halbig said.
The move paid dividends in a much more competitive game against Olney, won by Mt. Carmel 8-2.
Doan, a lefthander, started on the mound. Halbig later turned to Gill and Stoneberger. “Our pitching was great,” Halbig said.
On Sunday, Mt. Carmel banged out 15 more hits for an impressive two-day total of 39.
Gill was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish. Doan added three hits, while Clayton Halbig and Stoneberger added two apiece.
Before the tournament began, coach Halbig hoped for big games from the top of his lineup.
He got that and more.
“The top of the lineup set the table for us,” Halbig said.
Mt. Carmel will get two chances to nail down the district pennant. If they lose on Tuesday, they would play again on Wednesday for the crown, and berth in the sectional tournament.
“We don’t want to get too ahead of oursevles,” Halbig said.