Cavaliers rebound after winning streak concludes
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
No matter how talented a team may be, the players are still human.
After putting together a 16-game winning streak, the Carlinville baseball Cavaliers finally hit a wall last Friday and suffered their first defeat since Mar. 18 while in the midst of a busy conference stretch.
The string could’ve easily snapped on Apr. 23 against Vandalia, but a strong team effort on the mound helped keep Carlinville alive in an extra-inning thriller. The Vandals and Cavies traded a run in the opening frame. Then, the pitching war was on. Finally, in the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Dixon ensured that his three-inning relief effort would come with a win. The senior limited the Vandals to one hit and struck out five since taking over for Colton DeLong in the sixth. Dixon was hit by a pitch, then swiped second base to set up a Jake Ambuel walkoff double. Carlinville escaped with a 2-1 victory and extended its winning streak to 16.
Greenville and Carlinville had been stuck to each other like glue at the top of the South Central Conference standings for the entire season – up until last weekend. The Cavies previously stunned the Comets 5-4 on the road, so there was a sense of redemption flocking through the vistor dugout in Friday’s rematch. With a conference title on the line, the Carlinville defense was immediately feeling an added sense of pressure. Ambuel held Greenville to three hits, but surrendered five early unearned runs courtesy of four Cavalier errors. The senior was pulled with two outs in the second. The Comet hitters were completely shut down against DeLong and Dixon, but the damage had already been done. Carlinville was unable to rally and fell short, 5-1.
The Cavies were treated to another conference rematch on Monday. Although the chances of winning the South Central had become rather slim, Carlinville had the opportunity to stay in the hunt by defeating arch-rival Staunton. The Cavies didn’t disappoint and were dominant in all areas of the game. DeLong and Dixon combined for a four-hit shutout, no miscues were committed by the defense and Christian Griffith broke out for a 3-RBI performance. Once mixed together, these three key ingredients formed an 8-0 conquest and a season sweep for Carlinville. The Cavies outscored the Bulldogs 20-1 in the 2019 Macoupin County rivalry series. Staunton fell to 12-7 and 5-2 in South Central matches with the loss.
Carlinville is now 17-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play.
Jake Ambuel celebrates with Aiden Naugle after hitting a walkoff double against Vandalia. Carlinville won 2-1 in eight innings. Photo contributed.