By FRED KRONER
Monday was a night of firsts for the Mahomet-Seymour Junior High baseball team.
The important one: first place in their own Class 3A regional tournament.
That outcome was secured when unbeaten and top-seeded M-S (13-0) defeated second-seeded Paxton-Buckley Loda 10-5 in the championship game on the Bulldogs’ field.
The other firsts are ones M-S coach Nic DiFilippo would like to forget.
Namely, the first inning.
Before M-S even got to bat, it faced a 4-0 deficit.
PBL’s first-inning outburst provided the Bulldogs the largest deficit they needed to overcome this season.
Entering the game, M-S had outscored its first 12 opponents by a combined 125-15 margin.
Monday was the first time the Bulldogs needed to recover from a four-run deficit to secure a victory.
PBL kept M-S scoreless until the second inning and the visitors maintained the lead until a five-run fourth inning propelled the Bulldogs into an 8-4 advantage.
“We battled back,” DiFilippo said. “These guys never gave up. Very proud of them.”
Ethan Harrell led the 12-hit M-S attack, finishing 3-for-4.
Teammates with two hits apiece were Blake Wolters, Alex McHale and Dayton Eisenmann.
McHale drove in four runs. Harrell had two RBI.
After a shaky first inning, Wolters settled down and struck out eight batters in 6 2/3 innings.
Braden Houchin closed out the win by getting the final out.
The win sends M-S into a sectional game at Normal Parkside at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
That winner gets a berth in the eight-team Class 3A IESA state tournament.
To reach the regional finals, M-S overpowered Bloomington 10-1 on Saturday.
The 17-hit offensive attack in the Saturday semifinal game was paced by McHale (3-for-3) and teammates Carter Johnson and Carter Selk, each of whom were 3-for-4.
Houchin, Harrell and Eisenmann added two hits apiece.
Harrell and Clay Seal each totaled two RBI.
Winning pitcher Johnson worked 5 2/3 innings and recorded five strikeouts. He yielded four hits.
He was followed to the mound by Cade Sterrick and Houchin.
In its two regional games, M-S committed just one error.
DiFilippo’s junior high teams have won regional titles two years in a row and in four of the past seven years.