GIBSON CITY — The Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley baseball team won 14-4 in five innings over Fisher in its Heart of Illinois Conference debut on Monday.
With the win, the Falcons (5-0, 1-0 HOIC) remain undefeated.
"We’re happy about that," GCMS head coach Dustin White said. "We played really well today. It was a good game and a good way to start the conference year off. It was a game we felt like we needed to win, and we did that. Hopefully, we can now keep that momentum going."
The Falcons started by taking a 7-0 lead through the first inning.
Daniel Jones led off the inning with a triple off the center-field fence before scoring the go-ahead run on an infield single hit by Layne Harden.
After Nathan Garard singled to left field, Wade Burton sent Harden home with a line-drive base hit to right field. Hunter Brewer — who went 2-for-3 by the game’s end — then singled to right field to send Nathan Garard across home plate.
"Hunter Brewer has been swinging a hot bat," White said. "We know what kind of power Nathan (Garard) has."
With one out, Braden Roesch — who also finished the game hitting 2-for-3 — lined a base hit to center field to send Brewer across home plate. After Josh Nuss drew a walk, a single to left field hit by Ethan Garard sent Elliott and Roesch home.
Harden reached base on an error, sending Nuss home for GCMS’s seventh run.
"It was just a really good start offensively," White said. "We hit the ball around and came out really aggressively. Kids hit the ball hard and took advantage of a couple of mistakes they made, and we made them pay."
In the top half of the first inning, Nathan Garard struck Dakota Matthews and Dylan Baker out swinging and caught Jed Chow looking at a strike three. Garard struck Tyler Martin, Caleb Riley and Andrew Koslowski out swinging in the top of the second inning before departing from the mound.
Through his two innings on the mound, Nathan Garard allowed no runs on no hits and no walks through 28 pitches thrown.
"It’s really nice when your pitcher comes out and dominates the first two innings," White said.
The Falcons added four more runs to their lead in the bottom of the second inning.
After Brewer reached base on an error to lead off the inning, Cade Elliott singled to right field and Roesch drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Nuss then singled to send Brewer across home plate.
Ethan Garard lined out to right field to send Elliott across home plate via a tag-up. After Jones was hit by a pitch, Harden — who finished the game hitting 2-for-4 — doubled on a line drive to center field to send Roesch and Nuss across home plate.
"Layne Harden has been really hitting the ball really well," White said.
Brewer and Elliott — who went 3-for-4 — each singled to put runners on first and second base with nobody out in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Bryce Boundy — who was pinch-hitting for Ethan Garard — singled to left field to send Brewer home to extend GCMS’s lead to 12-0.
"It got to the point where we felt like we could get some guys in there and move some things around and work on some things offensively and defensively," White said.
Brewer took the mound for the Falcons in the top of the third inning.
After Jake Cochran hit a leadoff single to right field for Fisher, Burton struck out Hunter Coon. Tanner Diorio singled, and he and Cochran each advanced into scoring position with one out, before Matthews grounded out to Brewer for the second out and Chow struck out looking to leave the baserunners stranded.
In the top of the fourth inning, Baker and Martin each drew a walk and Riley singled to left field to load the bases with nobody out before Koslowski singled to left field to send Baker home and Cochran drew a bases-loaded walk to send Martin across home plate.
Following the run-scoring base-on-balls, Brewer was replaced on the mound by Jones.
Brewer finished his outing with two strikeouts and three walks while allowing four earned runs on four hits through one inning.
"Brewer did a nice job. He got a little soreness there in his second inning of work," White said. "We pulled him as a precautionary thing because he’s been swinging a hot bat. He’s been playing well at second base, and we needed to keep him out there. We didn’t want to do any damage to his shoulder."
After Jones struck out Conn for the first out, Diorio sent Riley and Koslowski home with a line-drive double to center field.
Matthews flied out to Andrew Laughery at center field and Chow grounded out to Jones to leave Diorio and Cochran stranded in scoring position.
In the top of the fifth inning, Baker struck out swinging, Martin popped out to Jones in foul territory and Riley grounded out to the second-baseman Boundy.
Jones allowed no runs on one hit and no walks with two strikeouts through two innings — and 30 pitches, a low pitch count that, White says, allows him to potentially start on Friday at LeRoy or on one of GCMS’s doubleheader games at home against Watseka on Saturday.
"He stayed underneath the necessary pitch count, so he’ll be able to come back in later in the week as well," White said.
"All three of those guys did a really nice job of pitching. We have thrown the ball very well to this point. We haven’t had a ton of chances defensively, so I’m not sure how good we can be defensively because our pitching staff has done such a good job. They haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities out there on defense, but we made the plays we needed to make. If we can continue that, that’s a good sign."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, GCMS scored two runs to clinch the victory via 10-run rule.
Elliott led off with a single to center field before stealing second base and scoring on a Roesch single to left field. Nuss — who went 2-for-3 — doubled to left field before Bryce Boundy — who finished the game hitting 2-for-2 in his pinch-hitting role — singled to center field to send Roesch home for the game-clinching run.
"Right now, from top to bottom, we’ve got 10 or 11 guys who are putting the ball in play hard," White said. "We got a lot of contributions from a lot of kids, and that’s the good thing about what we’ve got so far – we’ve got some competition at different spots. That competition means guys have to work a little harder in practice and be better to earn that starting job. If we can keep that competition up all year, that’s going to make our team better."
The Falcons will continue HOIC play on Wednesday as they host Tremont.
GCMS 14, Fisher 4
FISH 000 40 — 4 5 2
GCMS 741 2x — 14 17 0
W — Nathan Garard, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 6 K, 0 BB. L — Dakota Matthews, IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, K, BB.
Fisher — Dylan Baker R. Tyler Martin R. Caleb Riley 1-3, R. Andrew Koslowski 1-2, RBI. Jake Cochran 1-1, RBI. Tanner Diorio 2-2, 2B, 2 RBIs.
GCMS (5-0, 1-0) — Daniel Jones 1-2, 3B, R. Layne Harden 2-4, 2B, 3 RBIs, R. Nathan Garard 1-2, R. Wade Burton 1-2, RBI. Hunter Brewer 2-3, RBI, 3 R. Cade Elliott 3-4, 3 R. Braden Roesch 2-3, 2 RBIs, 3 R. Josh Nuss 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R. Ethan Garard 1-2, 3 RBIs. Bryce Boundy 2-2, 2 RBIs.