GIBSON CITY -- Going into Friday's game against Tri-Valley, the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley baseball team was one of three Heart of Illinois Conference teams with only one conference loss.
With its 11-10 victory over the Vikings, GCMS improved to 8-1 in the HOIC -- the Falcons lead the conference by half a game in front of Tremont (14-8, 7-1) -- along with 15-3 overall. LeRoy lost 6-1 to Eureka that same Friday.
The win over Tri-Valley was beneficial to GCMS in another way as well, as the Falcons and Vikings were each assigned to the IHSA Class 2A Bloomington Central Catholic Sectional's sub-sectional B. Seedings are scheduled to be posted on the IHSA's website on Tuesday, April 30.
"That's a nice thing going into seeding in another couple of days," GCMS head coach Dustin White said. "It was a good win for us."
The Falcons led 11-2 going into the top of the seventh inning before Tri-Valley put up eight runs in a rally attempt.
Braden Zenor singled to lead off the inning for the Vikings and Drew Kitterman walked and Drew Rudsinski singled to left field to load the bases before Zenor and Kitterman scored on a Jake Reeser double to right field.
Isaac Vance singled to left field to send Rudsinski home. After Nate Simon walked, Logan Wombles reached base on an error to send Reeser across home plate.
Isaac Vance scored on a wild pitch before Caleb Vance struck out looking for the first out. Braiden Elliott then singled to send Simon across home plate.
Layne Harden was pulled from the mound for GCMS after Elliott's RBI single. Josh Nuss struck out Zenor before Kitterman reached base on an error that sent Wombles across home plate.
After Elliott scored on a wild pitch, Nuss -- who was credited with the save at the game's end -- struck Rudsinski out swinging to end the game with Kitterman stranded on third base.
"We got the win. It was really good for six innings. Then in the seventh, we couldn't find a way to get an out, but we hung on. Sometimes, games are like that. That's what makes baseball such a great game," White said.
"In a lot of other sports, you get up to a big lead like that, and you can just kneel on it and run the cloack out. In baseball, you can't do that. Every out is important. Every run is important. Every pitch is important, and that's what makes this so much of a fun game."
Nathan Garard was credited with the win on the mound for GCMS as he struck out nine batters and walked none while allowing two earned runs on eight hits through six innings.
"(It was) a great pitching effort today," White said. "He continued to throw the ball really well. They got a few base hits early on his fastball, and then he really started to kind of pitch and work. I thought he did another fabulous job for us."
Reeser and Zenor each hit an RBI single in the first and second innings, respectively, to put Tri-Valley up 2-0 before GCMS scored five runs in the bottom of the second to take a 5-2 lead.
Harden led off the bottom of the second inning with a triple to right field before scoring on a one-out single hit to center field by Braden Roesch.
After Ethan Garard singled to right field and Nuss drew a walk to load the bases, Daniel Jones tripled to right field to send Roesch, Garard and Nuss across home plate.
Hunter Brewer drew a walk before Jones scored a run via a passed ball.
In the third inning, Harden hit a leadoff single to left field before Roesch reached base on an error that resulted in Harden crossing home plate. With two outs, Roesch scored on a wild pitch.
Cade Elliott and Harden each hit a one-out single to left field in the fourth inning, but Wade Burton popped out and Roesch was called out on a dropped third strike to end the inning.
In the fifth inning, GCMS added two more runs to extend its lead to 9-2 as Ethan and Nathan Garard each reached base on an error, Nuss flied into a fielder's choice and Brewer was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Cade Elliott singled to left field to send Nuss and Brewer home.
The Falcons tallied two more runs in the sixth inning as Roesch led off with a bunt single and Nuss hit a one-out single to center field before Roesch crossed home plate via a Jones groundout. Nuss scored as Brewer reached base on an error.
"We did a nice job offensive just putting the ball in play. We hit the ball hard a few times right at some guys. They probably took a couple of runs off the board because they played some good defense. Tri-Valley's a good team," White said.
"It's one of those things where we've just got to chip away there a little bit and add some things. There were a couple of opportunities this year when we've had the chance to put a team completely away or end it in five or six innings and we didn't and we kind of let them back in it. That's what happened today, but we got the win out of it."
Harden finished the game hitting 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored while Jones, Cade Elliott and Roesch each hit 2-for-4.
"We did a pretty good job today," White said. "We've got to do a better job of hitting the ball down. We had too many popups that we were trying to do a little bit too much on, but overall, it was a really good ballgame."
GCMS 11, Tri-Valley 10
TV 110 000 8 -- 10 13 4
GCMS 052 022 x -- 11 12 3
W -- Nathan Garard, 6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 9 K, 0 BB. L -- Bryce Bloener, 2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, K, 2 BB. S -- Josh Nuss, 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB.
Tri-Valley (10-10, 7-4) -- Braden Zenor 2-5, RBI, R. Drew Kitterman 3-4, 2 R. Drew Rudsinski 2-5, R. Jake Reeser 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs, R. Isaac Vance 1-4, RBI, R. Nate Simon R. Logan Wombles 1-4, RBI, 2 R. Caleb Vance 1-4. Braiden Elliott 1-4, RBI, R.
GCMS (15-3, 8-1) -- Daniel Jones 2-4, 3B, 4 RBIs, R. Hunter Brewer R. Nathan Garard 1-5. Cade Elliott 2-4, 2 RBIs. Layne Harden 3-3, 3B, 2 R. Braden Roesch 2-4, RBI, 3 R. Ethan Garard 1-4, R. Josh Nuss 1-2, 3 R, 2 BB.