Though we are now down to the final week of the high school baseball regular season, there remains plenty of time to turn the Golden Aces season into something memorable.
Despite a 4-11 record, there are suddenly plenty of things going right for the Aces as the IHSA Class 2A Regional now looms in the distance. The bats are coming around, and perhaps more importantly the defense is starting to put zeroes up in the “E” column on the scoreboard.
Aces manager John Copeland said he saw as much of the turnaround in a recent loss to Mt. Vernon than he did in Friday’s 12-2 home win over Lawrenceville.
“That’s what I told them,” Copeland said. “We played a Mt. Vernon team that was very good, and we played well. We can still get it going and erase all the heartache we’ve been through this year.
“Win a couple of games and get a regional,” said the coach of the upcoming Regional the Aces will host. Mt. Carmel comes in as a No. 4 seed in the five-team tourney.
The Aces team is now far superior to the one which other regional coaches seeded just a couple of weeks ago. Take hitting, for example. “We just have to get in the flow a little bit,” said Copeland, noting the nine-run second inning the Aces uncorked against visiting Lawrenceville (1-14) when 16 batters went to the plate.
In that frame “we got to the point where we weren’t giving up on bats. We made good swings and put the ball in play,” Copeland said.
The defensive metamorphosis has been striking, too. “Two straight games with no errors. That’s huge for us,” Copeland said. “We haven’t done that for a long time.”
As has been the case with all spring sports teams, the weather has impacted play and performances. But with a team short on experience as the season began, the lack of practice and game time hit the baseball Aces particularly hard.
“It’s been a tough year,” Copeland said. “The games we could really compete at were rained out, then we have to go out and play hard against really good teams but still come up short. It’s been odd, but it’s one of those things we can still salvage.”
Pete Smith got the win for the Aces. He went 3.1 innings and wiggled out of one bases-loaded jam in the third. Lawrenceville filled the bases again in the fourth, but reliever Kiefer Goldman came on to allow the Indians just two runs.
Mt. Carmel hosts Marshall on Tuesday before putting a wrap on the regular season on Saturday in Effingham.