3A State Semi-Finals: Prairie Ridge and Springfield Advance

By Drew Locascio and Peter Hamot
Illinois Staff

3A State Semi-Final: Game 1

Prairie Ridge Advances to State Final With Win Over Washington 

Prairie Ridge and Washington squared off for the first game of the day on Thursday. Dominant pitching led the way while a strong offensive surge in the last inning led to a dramatic walk-off win. 

Prairie Ridge entered the last inning chasing two runs. Senior Will Komar reached base safely after being hit by a pitch, followed by a single from senior Alex Milone to put two runners on with one out. Senior Owen Brock stepped in and delivered a softly hit ball to the shortstop; who went on to throw the ball away and allow two runs to score and even the game at three runs a-piece. With the winning run on second base, senior Dylan Bremer delivered the final blow, as he poked the ball over the second baseman to score Brock and send the Wolves to the State Finals. 

Washington got the offense clicking in the fifth inning. Senior Joshua Heyder reached base with a sharply hit ball to left-field to start the two-out rally. Senior Kaleb Gauf would step in and drive a ball to the right-center gap to score Heyder and give the Panthers a 2-1 lead at the time. Senior Devon Vanderheydt would then come up and single to right-field to score Gauf and extend their lead to 3-1 at the time. 

The Panthers would strike first in this State Semi-Final game in the third inning. Junior Easton Harris would draw a walk and set up Heyder; who went on to single to left-field and moved Harris to third. Gauf would go on to reach base via an error, while also scoring Harris on the same play to put Washington on top 1-0 at the time.

The Wolves of Prairie Ridge would respond in the bottom of the fourth inning. Senior Gabe Porter led off the inning with a triple into the right-center gap, and would later score on an error by the pitcher to even up the game at one run a piece. 

The Panthers handed the ball to senior right-hander Kizer Teague. Despite unfavorable results, Teague still was a bright spot for Washington in the Semi-Final matchup. Teague went 6.1 innings while only allowing three hits, two earned runs and punching out seven. The Panthers hurler featured a fastball at 79-83 mph that he was able to locate on both sides of the plate. He went to a 11/5 breaking ball in the 64-66 mph range to keep the Wolves hitters out of sync while he was in the game. Teague also used multiple windups and timings to make the Wolves’ day at the plate that much more uncomfortable. 

The Wolves were led on the mound by senior Parker Swanson. Swanson went 5.1 strong innings with two earned runs and five strikeouts to give his team a chance the entire game. The right-hander featured a fastball that sat 83-85 mph with life, collecting swing-and-misses at the top of the zone. He also featured a sharp 10/4 breaking ball in the 76-78 mph range to complement his fastball. 

3A State Semi-Final: Game 2

Springfield Rallies Late, Gets Past St. Laurence in Extras

The Senators of Springfield rallied late to force extra innings and ultimately knocked off St. Laurence 6-4 in eight innings to advance to the 3A State Finals on Thursday evening. 

Springfield was down to their final three outs in the top of the seventh, trailing 4-3. With nobody out and a runner on, Ben Hartl, a Heartland CC commit, came to the plate. The senior,  who did it all for the Senators in this game, lined a game-tying RBI triple into the right-center field gap. St. Laurence freshman reliever, RHP Kannen Mosher, buckled down and induced three-straight ground balls to strand Hartl at third and head to the bottom of the seventh tied at four. 

Springfield took control in the top of the eighth inning when freshman left-handed hitter Jack Swaney smoked a ball into right-field with two men on. The ball got by the right-fielder, allowing both runs to score and Swaney was able to motor all the way to third base. The big swing by Swaney was all Springfield needed, as Hartl closed things out on the mound in the bottom of the eighth.

Hartl, who started the game at shortstop, came out of the bullpen in the fourth inning and was crucial in keeping Springfield in the game. Hartl ended up throwing 4.2 innings, scattering three hits, no runs and struck out four. Hartl landed 72% of his 53 for strikes while working in the mid-to-upper 80’s with his fastball. Along with getting the win on the mound, Hartl finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, a triple and two RBI’s on the day. 

Swaney, who delivered arguably the biggest hit of the game, finished 2-for-3 with two RBI’s and a walk. 

St. Laurence took control of the game early with two runs in the bottom of the first. After the first two batters of the inning reached base via free passes, sophomore Johnny Wendling delivered a sacrifice fly and junior Angelo Luna followed up with an RBI single. They went on to score a lone run in the third and fourth innings, accounting for their four total runs. 

RHP Osvaldo Ballesteros took the tough no decision for St. Laurence. The junior started on the mound and threw six quality innings for the Vikings. Ballesteros ended up going six innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs, while striking out four and walking three.  

Sophomore Luke Stulga, Jimmy Gurgone and Josh Zubrzycki each had two hits in the loss for St. Laurence.

1B Ryne Crum drove a number of balls hard for Springfield, finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored.