The weather conditions on Thursday weren't ideal at all for baseball (temperatures in the 30s, with wind chills in the low 20s), but neither Shiloh Christian nor Beulah complained.
Both teams were just happy to finally get the 2018 high school season underway. Seven chilly innings later, Shiloh was the happiest of the two, leaving Dwyer Field with a 7-3 Class B Region 8 victory over the Miners.
Shiloh, the defending Region 8 champion, was supposed to start the season on April 5, but has had to cancel or postpone five scheduled games because of weather. Thursday's conditions weren't much of an improvement, but Shiloh coach Aric Lee said his team didn't want to wait any longer to begin play.
"I'm sure Beulah felt the same. The way this spring has gone, it was good to get out and play a game, even on a cold day like this. There aren't a lot of teams in the state that have been able to do that," he said. "We know it's going to get better and hopefully we'll be able to get in most of the rest of our schedule. We started it off in a big way, though. I liked what I saw."
The Skyhawks, who have six regulars back from last year's sixth-place Class B state tournament team, trailed 2-1 after three-and-a-half innings, but took command with a six-run bottom of the fourth. Josh Lardy led off the inning with a walk and Cole Baumiller followed with a single. Josh Kolling then bunted the ball down the first-base line, but an errant throw to first enabled Lardy to score the tying run. Kolling later stole second, and in the process, was hit by Beulah catcher Aaron Vallejo's throw. The ball bounced into short center field, allowing Baumiller to score.
One out later, back-to-back singles by Eric Fettig and Drew Flory made it 4-2. Shea Huntington then singled to load the bases, and Canaan Fagerland drew a walk to bring in Shiloh's fifth run. Jaden Mitzel followed with an RBI single, and Lardy plated the sixth run of the inning with a groundout.
"That was the kind of inning coaches like to see. We had some very good at-bats, and both the top half and bottom half of the lineup contributed," Lee said. "We have a lot of work to do, but it was encouraging to see us have a big inning like that against a good team."
Shiloh took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second on Baumiller's run-scoring double. He plated Lardy, who singled to lead off the inning.
Beulah, which placed second in the Region 8 tournament last year, evened the score in the top of the third. Mason Dolbec scored on a wild pitch after a walk, an errant pickoff throw to first and a wild pitch put him on third base.
The Miners scored another run without the benefit of a hit in the top of the fourth. Two walks and a hit-batter loaded the bases with one out, and after Dolbec grounded into a forceout, Dawson Bieber was hit by a pitch, sending home the tie-breaking run.
Beulah didn't get its first hit until Derek Ferebee doubled with one out in the top of the fifth. In the seventh, Vallejo smacked a one-out triple and later scored on a Ferebee single.
The Miners finished with five hits.
The Skyhawks used three pitchers, with starter Fagerland and Kolling each going two innings. Baumiller took the mound in the fifth and finished up.
"I thought our pitchers did a nice job. We had some control problems early on, but we were able to pitch ourselves out of trouble," Lee said.
Fagerland, a junior, is Shiloh's top returning regular. Last year, he batted better than .500. On the mound, he carried a 5-2 record and a 1.77 earned run average into the state tournament.
Kolling and Mitzel batted .345 and .330, respectively.
Shiloh is scheduled to host a region game against Hazen next Tuesday.