JASONVILLE -- Clay City's Eels learned Saturday the last game of the season is the worst time to face the hardest throwing hurlers of the year with an 8-0 loss to Shakamak.
Now, the host Lakers, 19-9 on the season, face the 12-11 North Central Thunderbirds in the Shakamak Sectional championship game at 7 p.m. Monday.
The Eels ended their season 9-11.
Lakers hurler Tyler Richardson only threw four innings before Shakamak's skipper Chip Sweet gave him a rest, eyeing Monday's sectional championship game.
"We couldn't get a handle on him," said Clay City Coach Vance Edmondson.
"We couldn't solve him. He was throwing some real heat, and those were the fastest pitches we'd seen all season. When a guy throws in the high 80s, that's tough to catch up to. You can't really prepare for that sort of thing in practice."
Thereafter, for an inning he substituted senior T.J. Hill, who'd been ailing with a hurt shoulder, then utilized senior Jarred Van Horn as the closer.
Conversely, Eels' senior D.J. Newton was Clay City's sole occupant on the mound all evening.
"I think Newton did a good job," Edmondson said. "He was throwing strikes, but they kept hitting them."
The teams kept one another scoreless the first two innings, though the woes Clay City faced battling back Richardson's speed was evident early.
While 11 Laker batters made it to the plate during the initial two innings, the Eels could only manage six swingers -- three outs per inning.
In the third, it all broke open for Shakamak, with three runs scored.
First, Scott McNabb smacked a single up the middle.
Billy Newton, facing down his cousin on the mound, bunted for the double, but the runners managed to leg the hit out, landing on second and third.
A hard smack from Van Horn whipped past Newton next, bringing the two runners home.
Two outs for Hill and Patrick Green followed, but another shot right up the middle by Tyler Grissom brought Van Horn home, making it a three-run inning.
Eels batters tried to catch fire in the fourth, but couldn't quite find the spark. Colton Harbour walked to first, before Brylan Jones struck out. Landry Moss bunted, and made it to base before D.J. Newton struck out and Ben Denker flew out.
In the fourth, the Lakers added another run, making it 4-0. Brock Dowell walked before Johnny Smith was tagged out on a bunt. Scotty McNabb grounded and was tagged at first, but it was enough to move Dowell around to scoring position.
A hurl by D.J. Newton as he faced down his cousin Billy at the plate bounced past catcher Austin Evans, a slip Dowell took advantage of, reaching home.
Newton then singled, but was tagged out in an attempt to steal while Van Horn was at the plate.
A quick three-up, three-down for the Eels followed, with Evans reaching base before being picked off, Tyler Bridgewater striking out, and Tanner Persinger being tagged on a grounder.
In the fifth, Shakamak ensured their score kept pace with the inning, adding another run.
Van Horn drove to first, but was picked off. Green singled to left field, then Hill hit a hard double, his ailing shoulder proving no more a detriment at home than it had on the mound.
Bridgewater struck next, bringing Green home. However, Hill was picked off, caught between third and home as he attempted a steal.
Cade Sapp then struck out, bringing in the Eels. But three quick outs followed, with Cole Smith and Colton Harbour falling on strikeouts before Brylan Jones hit but was picked off.
The Lakers came back hard in the top of the sixth, scoring three more runs and bringing their tally to 8-0.
Dowell bunted, but couldn't leg it out, tagged at first.
Smith hit a line drive single, followed by McNabb's drive up the middle which brought runners to first and second bases.
Billy Newton faced down his cousin D.J. for the final time, but another pitch which made it past Evans brought Shakamak runners to second and third.
Hit by a pitch, the batter walked, loading the bases.
Van Horn came next, smacking the ball, but allowing Smith home while Van Horn was tagged.
With two outs, Green whipped a hard hit to center field, allowing McNabb and Newton home before Hill, next up, was tagged out on a single.
Another trio of Eels batters were shut down in the sixth, with Moss and Newton out on strikes before Tyler Sparks, a newcomer in right field, caught a fly ball from Denker.
At the top of the seventh, Grissom was picked off with a short pop near Newton. Sapp then managed a base hit up the middle but was tagged out during a steal attempt. Sparks then struck out.
The first two Eels batters at the bottom of the seventh, Evans and Bridgewater, fell on strikes and a catch by Sparks, respectively.
"He made a couple of plays that he had to make," Sweet said. "We made the defensive plays when we had to, but we really didn't have to make very many."
Persinger rallied briefly, scoring a triple on a hard hit to center field.
Pinch runner Adam Sumner was brought in, but pinch hitter Jeff Shaw then fell on strikes, ending play.
Clay City 000 000 0 -- 0 2 1
Shakamak 003 113 x -- 8 12 1
Clay City: Newton (L) and Evans, A.; Shakamak: Richardson (1-4), Hill (5), Van Horn (6-7) (W), and Sapp.