Prep Baseball Report

2A IHSA State Finals Preview

By Maddox Durst
PBR Illinois & Wisconsin Staff

The IHSA Class 2A semifinals will begin Friday afternoon, at Dozer Park in Peoria, Ill., and the first matchup between Richmond-Burton and Maroa-Forsyth will begin at 3 p.m. Joliet Catholic Academy and Columbia will follow at approximately 5 p.m. 

On Saturday, the third place game will begin at 3 p.m., and the championship matchup will start at approximately 5:30 p.m.


The Rockets come into the IHSA Baseball State Tournament with a 31-5 record. Against teams from Illinois, Richmond-Burton is 29-3 on the season, and they haven’t lost since May 7.

Head coach Mike Giese and the Rockets haven’t made it to the state tournament stage since the 2006 season, though Giese and the Rockets are still looking to get their first win inside the tournament itself.

The offense for the Rockets brings some firepower into the state tournament this weekend. In the middle of the season, they put up double-digit scores in seven straight games, and they’ve managed to score at least nine runs in each of their playoff games so far.

Leading the way is C/OF Hayden Christiansen (2022; Xavier commit), who raked an impressive .553, tallying 63 hits, which include 30 extra-base hits and a lofty 11 home runs – among the most in the whole state. Christiansen entered his senior spring with a reputation as one of the most powerful bats in the state, and his massive offensive production has met huge preseason expectations, generating 50 RBIs and 62 runs scored in 35 games thus far, helping launch the Rockets to Peoria.

Seniors IF/RHP Kaden Neuman (2022), IF/RHP Connor Wallace (2022), DH/LHP Ethan Fischer (2022), and IF Brock Wood (2022) all bring in batting averages that are over .400, which contribute to Richmond-Burton’s widespread offensive attack.

Neuman and Wallace also get it done on the mound, as both pitchers have combined to win 14 games, and strike out 108 batters. Wallace comes in with an ERA of 2.85, and Neuman owns a 2.33 ERA. Senior LHP/IF Joseph Mrowiec (2022) is the ace of the staff, as he enters the state tournament with a 7-1 record, and only walks one batter per every four strikeouts. And Mrowiec is yet another threat in the batter’s box within this lineup, as he’s amassed 37 RBIs this spring aided by six doubles, four triples, and four homers this season.

The Rockets bring in a veteran staff on both offense and defense, which will help them make a push to try and win their first-ever IHSA Class 2A championship.


The Hilltoppers are among the most historic programs in the state’s baseball scene, and they’re back for their 13th state tournament appearance this weekend in Peoria – and it’s their first appearance since 2013. Despite a 16-11 record in the regular season, JCA was able to get hot in the playoffs, where they outscored their opponents 39-3 and they haven’t allowed a run since their first playoff game against Wilmington on May 19 – they’ve shut out Reed-Custer, Chicago U-High, Coal City, and Brimfield en route to the state semifinals.

This ‘Toppers pitching staff has carried them through the playoffs so far. Two lefties – LHP/OF TJ Schlageter (2023) and LHP Jake Gimbel (2024) – have done the heavy lifting for Joliet Catholic, as the two have combined for nearly 100 innings pitched this season; Schlageter has thrown 50 innings while the sophomore Gimbel has pitched 46. Schlaegter leads the team in strikeouts (63), and he has only walked nine batters all season. Gimbel has only allowed 19 earned runs in his 46 innings of work, which results in an ERA of 2.89. At the back end of the bullpen, seniors RHP/OF Dom Coda (2022; Lewis) and RHP/SS Jake Spotofora (2022; College of DuPage JC) are bringing with them ERAs of 1.47 and 1.06, respectively, to add to the depth of arms that JCA has to utilize this weekend.

Along with their stellar pitching, the offense has found their footing as well. They’re averaging around eight runs per game in the playoffs, led by seniors OF Luka Radicevich (2022; Chipola JC) and OF/1B Jackson Cullen (2022; Loras College). Cullen leads the team in hits (37), and Radicevich has the most RBIs (35). Junior Louisville recruit OF/RHP Trey Swiderski (2023) is also capable of jumpstarting this offense with any given swing, as he leads the team with six home runs that’s helped bring his 29 RBIs. Senior shortstop Aidan Voss (2022) is a talented athlete committed to play football at the JUCO Iowa Western, but before he gets there, he’ll help energize JCA’s offense from near the top of the order, as he’s become accustomed to doing.

The Hilltoppers played a daunting schedule this spring, especially for a 2A program, so don’t let their 11 losses this season fool you. JCA’s a well-coached, fundamentally sound squad that’s hitting their stride at the best possible moment, making them a threat for their fourth state championship trophy.


The Trojans began the regular season with 21 straight victories before suffering their first and only blemish on the schedule, a 7-0 loss to Mahomet-Seymour. After that, Maroa-Forsyth restarted the winning streak that’s taken all the way to Peoria, now 32-1 overall, the best record in Illinois.

Two Trojan players, junior OF/LHP Evan Foster (2023) and senior 1B/RHP Jaxson Grubbs (2022; Lewis & Clark CC), have been two-way studs for Maroa-Forsyth. Foster is hitting .465, and has a 7-0 record as a pitcher, where he struck out 72 batters and walked just 15. Grubbs hit .400 with eight home runs, and went 11-1 on the mound, and he allowed just 22 earned runs in 69 innings.

Sophomore IF/RHP Kaiden Maurer (2024) also brings in a .430 batting average, and an 0.33 ERA in 21 innings of work. Maurer was the hero of Maroa-Forsyth’s Super-Sectional game against Monticello, where he hit a walk-off two-run single to advance the Trojans to the 2A state tourney, their first state berth since 1995.

Senior INF Ethan Willoughby (SIUE commit) fills out the uniform at 6-foot-4, 188-pounds and has been one of the offensive catalysts all year long. The right-handed hitter sat towards the top of a number of offensive categories, hitting .432 with 12 doubles, a team leading five triples and two home runs. He has also driven in 46 and scored 43 runs. 

The Trojans will only graduate three seniors this season, so much of the same core here will be back in 2023, though they intend to garner valuable experience at this weekend’s state tournament to enter the ‘23 spring as reigning champs.

COLUMBIA (26-7-1)

The Eagles will be making their program’s fourth all-time appearance at the state tournament this weekend, and their first in since the 2007 season. They bring in another young team that is poised to finish off their playoff run here at state on the highest of notes. The Eagles finished the regular season with a 26-7-1 record, and they’ve mostly won their postseason games this spring in a convincing fashion.

Columbia is led by two pitchers who are both 6-0 on the season: senior RHP/SS Logan Mueller (2022; Quincy) and sophomore RHP/SS Lucas Riebeling (2024). Riebeling will be an important arm out of the bullpen for the Eagles, and Mueller will be a key starter, as he has thrown 51 innings this season. Mueller’s bat is also critical to his team, as he’s recorded 15 extra-base hits this season, including five homers, and he’s driven in 29 runs in 2022.

Junior RHP/SS Dom Voegele (2023) is the best two-way player for the Eagles. He is hitting .387, had 43 hits and 32 RBI this year, and has thrown the most innings for Columbia at 59. Voegele has an ERA of 1.78, struck out 91 batters, and has an 8-3 record. We just happened to catch his latest start, in which he looked like one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state’s junior class. There, he was up to 93 mph and punched out 12 batters in six innings to steer Columbia to this state berth.

Senior OF/SS Kyle McConachie (2022; Highland CC, KS) also brings the offensive firepower for the Eagles. McConachie roped a team leading 47 hits which produced a .409 batting average, and he tallied a team-high 17 doubles for Columbia this spring. He is a bat to look out for in this Eagles’ lineup this weekend.

Head coach Neal O'Donnell and the Eagles bring a younger nucleus into Peoria, which will be a group that will hang around for awhile as they only lose three seniors to graduation after this season.