FULTON – For five innings, Fulton danced and dodged its way around trouble during Saturday's game against Indian Creek.
The last two innings, however, the Steamers were unable to keep the Timberwolves at bay, and IC went on to a 5-1 victory in the championship game of the Class 1A Fulton Regional.
Indian Creek (16-5) will take on Lena-Winslow, a 4-3 winner in eight innings against River Ridge in the Galena Regional final, on Wednesday in a Lena-Winslow Sectional semifinal.
It is the first regional title for the Timberwolves.
"It feels great to be a part of it and finally make school history," sophomore left fielder Brock Myers said.
Myers had the key hit for Indian Creek, a two-out, two-run single in the top of the sixth that drove in pinch runners Christian Chambers and Olin Simpson. Up to that point, the Timberwolves had just three hits off Fulton starter Devon Ballard, but had squandered some golden opportunities to score.
"Coach [Joe] Piekarz told me, 'If it's there, drive it. Anything that gets you on first base, that's what we want,'" Myers said. "The first pitch, it was right down the middle. I just swung at it, and got it past him."
The single up the middle glanced off the glove of Fulton shortstop Ethan Jones and into right field, allowing Simpson to score the go-ahead run from second base.
Indian Creek gave itself some insurance in the seventh inning, with the key hit being a two-run triple by Tim Sommerfield. A wild pitch by Jones, who had relieved Ballard one batter into the seventh inning, allowed the fifth and final Timberwolves run to score.
After 4½ scoreless innings, Fulton (14-16) finally broke through against Indian Creek starter David Boehne. Jack Lemke led off the fifth with a single, and he moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Sweenie.
After Seth Sanderson popped out, Trey Simmons delivered a base hit to left-center that plated Lemke.
That was the only time, however, the Steamers were able to break through. They ended the second and sixth innings by hitting into double plays, and also stranded runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings.
"It just seemed like it wasn't our day," Fulton coach Kyle Miller said. "When we hit a ball hard, it was right at somebody. You'll have those days. I thought we competed well, but we just couldn't get that big hit when we needed it."
Boehne (4-2) went the distance, allowing six hits and two walks, while striking out five. He was backed by an error-free defense.
"He throws strikes, he makes the other team put it in play," Piekarz said, "and that's what he did again today. He doesn't give teams extra opportunities. If you're going to beat him, you have to hit against him. He did a nice job of moving his fastball around, and keeping them off-balance."
Ballard was nearly as effective. In six innings, he allowed three runs, five hits and two walks – both of which came around to score. He struck out five.
Jones, who threw a complete against Milledgeville on Wednesday, allowed two runs (one earned), two hits and two walks in the seventh.
Paul Velasco had two of Fulton's six hits. Ballard had the lone extra-base hit, a double to lead off the sixth.
"We hit the ball hard," Sanderson said, "but they just made all the plays."
Star of the game: Brock Myers, Indian Creek, 2-run 1B
Key performers: Tim Sommerfeld, Indian Creek, 2-run 3B; David Boehne, Indian Creek, 7 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 5 SO; Trey Simmons, Fulton, RBI 1B
Up next:Lena-Winslow Sectional semifinal, Indian Creek vs. Lena-Winslow, 4 p.m. Wednesday