High school BASEBALL
IHSA Class 1A Sectional Semifinals
Grant Park 10, St. Bede 4
The Dragons spewed fire at the plate Wednesday evening by totaling 12 hits in the sectional semifinals to advance to the sectional championship Friday.
“The best part about tonight was it was a team effort,” Dragons coach Matt Fick said. “We keep preaching to the kids that we’re not just one pitcher or just one hitter, we’re a complete team.”
Grant Park got things started early by stealing a run off a wild pitch in the bottom of the first inning. Shortly after, Keaton Lacer ripped an RBI single before Sawyer Loitz added the squad’s final run in the inning on another RBI single to give the Dragons a 3-0 lead after the first.
Travis Fick then cruised up and down St. Bede’s lineup by finishing nothing short of a gem on the bump. He allowed two runs on zero hits and fanned six during 4 2/3 innings to pick up the win on the mound.
“I started off with some fastballs early to get ahead in the count, and St. Bede struggled to find my changeup,” Travis Fick said. “Those were some of my keys tonight.”
The Dragons added a run in both the second and fourth innings to take control with a 5-0 lead.
St. Bede scored two runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings, but the Dragons managed to respond both times with two runs of their own in the fifth and three more in the sixth to hold off any comeback attempt late.
“Our strength comes from our friendships,” Grant Park’s Wesley Schneider said. “We’ve been playing together since we were little kids, and we would do anything for each other. This is a special group of guys.”
Schneider went 3 for 4 with three singles and an RBI to lead the Dragons at the plate. Clayton McKinstry added two hits and two runs-scored in three plate appearances. Cody Radzik chipped in a single, a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
Grant Park will travel to Newark for the sectional championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s not getting any easier the further we advance,” Coach Fick said. “We understand that it just gets tougher. We know we have to step up our game, and we’ve been doing that lately.”
Milford 5, Warrensburg-Latham 3
The Bearcats managed to advance to the sectional championship game thanks to a hot start at the plate and solid defense late.
Milford’s Owen Halpin put the Bearcats on the scoreboard with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to give the home squad an early 2-0 lead before it was able to add a run in the next three innings to hold off a late comeback attempt by Warrensburg-Latham, which totaled a run in each of the final two innings.
“It’s a wonderful group of guys, and we love being around each other, so to be a team for at least a couple more days is the biggest victory over everything,” Bearcats coach Greg DeWerff said. “We will look to build off this game and compete our butts off in the sectional finals.”
Milford relied on its ace Aaron Banning, who went five innings in the start, allowing one earned run on three hits, striking out four and walking one to grab the win on the bump.
“Banning threw the ball really well for us and kept them at bay,” DeWerff said. “His changeup was really good, and he was locating his two-seam fastball inside.”
Warrensburg-Latham had a chance late in the top of the seventh, when its lead-off hitter singled, followed by another RBI single to cut it within two before relief pitcher Sawyer Laffoon managed to retire the final three straight batters to keep Milford’s season alive.
Laffoon led the Bearcats at the plate with two hits, including a double for an RBI and a run scored. Luke McCabe and Halpin added a double each, and Laffoon picked up the save, allowing two earned runs on three hits in two innings of work.
Milford will face Mt. Pulaski on the road at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the sectional championship.
BOYS TRACK AND FIELD
IHSA Class 1A Seneca Sectional (Beecher, Bishop McNamara, Dwight, Momence, Wilmington)
Tony Phillips took first 100-meter dash to lead Bishop McNamara and advance to the state finals. Christian Provost, Pedro Hernandez, Grant Fouts and Chase Provost took first in the 4-by-800-meter distance relay to also advance to next weekend’s state finals. Jaydon Wright, Alan Smith, Dylan Brownbill and Phillips chipped in a second-place finish in the 4-by-100-meter relay.
Russell Ward secured second in the 3200-meter distance race to lead Beecher and advance. Chase Juster won the 110-meter hurdles to lead Wilmington. Rayquain Coleman led Momence with a second-place finish in both the 100-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles. Abe Rieke swept discus and shot put to lead Dwight. Teammate Andrew Kapper finished right behind with a second-place finish.
IHSA Class 1A St. Joseph-Ogden Sectional (Central, Iroquois West, Milford, St. Anne, Watseka)
Bryon Grant secured second in the 1600-meter distance race to advance to the state finals and lead Iroquois West. Connor Price added a second-place finish in the 400-meter dash.
Joe Fegan, Hunter Meyer, Jordan Schroeder and Jameson Cluver finished second in the 4-by-400-meter relay race to lead Watseka. Cluver added a first-place victory in the 400-meter dash.
Spencer Wells took home second in the high jump and 110-meter hurdles to advance to the state finals for Milford. Reece Curtis finished fifth in the 400-meter dash to record St Anne’s best individual finish on the evening. Michael Alberts took fifth in discus, and Hunter Davis did the same in the 3200-meter distance race to lead Central.
IHSA Class 2A Geneseo Sectional
Coal City’s Asa Cooper advanced to the state finals with a first-place finish in the triple jump (13.12 meters) and two second-place finishes in the long jump (6.57 meters) and 100-meter dash (11.37 seconds).
IHSA Class 3A Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional
Bradley-Bourbonnais wasn’t able to advance anyone, but Nathan Domont managed to secure the Boilermakers’ best placements with two fourth-place finishes in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.