MOKANE, Mo. — The Russellville Indians' baseball team (17-8) lost to the Eugene Eagles 1-0 in the semifinal round of the Class 2 District 9 Tournament on May 18, bringing the Indians' season to an end.
The strongly defensive game end up as a pitching duel. The Indians registered just one hit during the game, courtesy of Charlie Miller in the top of the first inning.
Russellville head coach Lucas Branson said the team knew going into the game that it faced a tough match up and tried to have quality at-bats.
"We knew going in that we were going to see one of the best pitchers in the state, and we had to maintain our aggressive with discipline approach and try to make him get deep in pitch counts in each at-bat," Branson said. "We did have some very good at-bats throughout the game but, unfortunately, the balls we hit well were (to the) right people and Eugene made some good defensive plays."
In the bottom of the second inning, Eugene had a runner on second with two outs. It looked like the Eagles were going to score first after a base hit caused the runner to be sent home, but the Indians were able to get to the ball quickly and throw the runner out at home to keep the game scoreless early in the contest.
Branson said the Indians came into the game expecting it to be a low-scoring affair.
"We fully expected the game to be low-scoring and knew that we were going to have great pitching on our side to match them," Branson said.
The game stayed scoreless all the way until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Eagles were finally able to get a run in to make it 1-0. In the top of the seventh inning, the Indians were able to put some fly balls into play, but the Eagles made the plays needed to end the game unscathed.
The Indians had one hit and two errors in the game. Eugene scored one run on three hits in the game. Charlie Miller had the only hit in the game for Russellville. Logan Cinotto pitched six innings for Russellville, striking out five batters and walking four.
Branson said despite the district loss, his team accomplished a lot during this season.
"Our guys accomplished a lot, both on and off the field," Branson said. "To have a new group of players — (we) only returned one starter from 2019 — come in and compete at a high level throughout the season says a lot about their ability. Our biggest challenge was gaining confidence in close games and learning how to handle adversity throughout. We fully expected to see some growing pains, but our guys worked hard and overcame those challenges very quickly. We expect to see that growth continue and expectations remain high for our baseball program."
Branson said the players returning for Russellville next season have earned the experience necessary to play at the varsity level.
"The returning players now understand what it takes to play varsity baseball at a high level, and also will have the experience of this season under their belt to use for even more motivation to return next year with high goals," Branson said.