FULTON, Ill. — Fulton knew it had its hands full heading into Friday’s baseball game against Hall. After all, the Red Devils entered the game with an 8-1 record, and they had momentum after blanking Rockridge the day before.
Fulton fell to Hall 5-2 on Friday, and both Fulton runs came on back-to-back hits from Paul Velasco and Devon Ballard. However, the Red Devils dropped three separate squeeze plays to force pressure on a young Fulton defense.
“They did the little things right,” Fulton coach Kyle Miller said. “It’s hard to defend against their bunts, especially the last two they placed down the first-base line. Good teams do that, and they had great execution.
Hall placed eight runners on base despite recording just two hits. One of the hits was a home run in the fourth inning from shortstop Miguel Villareal off Fulton pitcher Jack Lemke.
“He threw well for us,” Miller said. “He is a sophomore with a senior’s mentality. When I went for a mound visit, he even admitted that the batter just made a good hit on the ball. He’s got great maturity.”
Lemke has gotten the ball against three of the tougher teams in the Three Rivers Conference, and Miller isn’t afraid to hand Lemke a tough assignment.
“Nothing fazes the kid,” Miller said. “He was able to keep us in the game after allowing the home run.”
Lemke lasted four innings on the hill, allowing two hits on two earned runs. Lemke also walked two and struck out four Red Devils. Lemke threw 68 pitches, and 37 of them were strikes.
Ballard and Seth Sanderson combined to finish the final three innings in relief. The two combined to force six groundouts.
On the offensive side for the Steamers, Ethan Jones started the fourth inning by reaching first base on an error, then Velasco brought in the Fulton shortstop on a double that reached the wall to right-center field.