GIFFORD — Andrew Erickson was smiling after Sunday’s first game of a baseball doubleheader between the Gifford Flatville Giflats and Game 7 Legacy of Lexington.

In the top of the ninth, Legacy trailed 8-4 but was not ready to go down quietly. Legacy managed to load the bases and score two runs off of a single to cut the lead to two. Legacy had runners on first and second.

Unusual ending

The game ended in dramatic fashion when Giflats catcher Erickson overthrew his third baseman, Dan Plecki, in attempt to get Legacy’s William Van Duyne out at third. Van Duyne then attempted to score, but left fielder Mike Plecki made the relay throw to Erickson, who tagged out the runner at home plate to end the game. The Giflats (3-1) held on for an 8-7 win.

“I thought, ‘Oh no I just missed a throw!’ but when the throw came in it was all right,” Erickson said. “Since the ball one-hopped, I had to scoot up a little bit since he was a little quicker than the ball was. I tried to scoot up and catch the ball as soon as possible just to get a tag on quicker.  I was pretty excited about it.”

Giflats head coach Dan Plecki said that there is no safe lead in an Eastern Illinois League game.

“A team puts a run together and a few good at bats,” Plecki said. “They get a single here and there, and the game starts to get close. Those times you just gotta reset, tighten up and try to make plays. We knew that they were going to try and fight back to win that game.”

Plecki also played catcher and third base for the Giflats during the game.

The Giflats fell behind Legacy in the first couple of innings. Legacy scored three runs from a pair of RBI singles and a fielder’s choice in the first inning.

Jon Goebel put the Giflats on the scoreboard in the second inning. Goebel hit a two run home run to make the score 3-2.

Gifford ties game

In the third inning with the Giflats up to bat, Cade Sestak, reached first base off of an error. Sestak stole second and advanced to third after Andrew Erickson hit a single. Sesak scored after Cody Grove hit an infield single. The game was tied 3-3.

Legacy took the lead again in the fourth, scoring its fourth run after a combination of two infield errors by the Giflats and a single.

In the fifth with the Giflats up to bat, the bases were loaded after Legacy allowed back-to-back infield errors and a single. Mike Plecki hit a sacrifice ground ball that scored one. Sestak was on third and scored after a wild pitch to give the Giflats a 5-4 lead.

Sestak was also the starting pitcher for the Giflats. Sestak threw for six innings, giving up four runs (three earned), six hits, two walks and struck out six.

“Sestak has been a good pitcher for us in the last couple of years,” Plecki said. “You just have to rely on those guys. You can’t have a short leash on them, because you have to get a certain amount of innings out of them. He did a good job with keeping us in it.”

The Giflats added to its lead in the seventh. The bases were loaded after two walks and a single. Dan Plecki hit an RBI single to give for the team’s sixth run. The next batter, Mike Plecki, following his brother, hit an RBI single. The final run in the inning came after Austin Tabeling hit a sacrifice ground ball to make the score 8-4.

“Those nine-inning games are really long games,” Plecki said. “They have a lot of good players on their team. We do, too. Good players tend to make good things happen.”

Legacy responds in game two with 8-3 victory

Legacy bounced back in game two for an 8-3 win in seven innings.

Just like in the first game, Legacy took the lead in the first after a two-run home run. The team added one run in the second and five runs in the third.

The Giflats also played a double on Saturday against the Royal Giants in a makeup doubleheader from the week before. The Giflats won both games, 4-1 and 5-2.

Plecki said playing four games in two days is hard for any team that doesn’t have a large bullpen.

“We usually only play two games a week,” Plecki said. “It was a challenging scenario, but it was like that for everybody. It’s just one of those things that the league has always had a time with dealing on having enough pitching with rainout makeup games.”

In the EI standing, the Giflats are tied with both Legacy and Buckley Dutch Masters in first place with a 3-1 record.

Next up for the Giflats will be a double header against the El Paso Warriors on Sunday at South Pointe Park in El Paso. The first game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Contact Ben Theobald at btheobald@rantoulpress.com