Prep Baseball Report

IHSA Playoffs: 2A State Preview

By Jackson Dvorak
Illinois Staff

This year’s field of four will meet in Normal, IL on Friday, June 18th on the campus of Illinois State University at Duffy Bass Field. The state finalists feature four programs that are historically successful, but none of the four have made a state appearance since 2014.

Three of the four teams heading to Illinois State having less than five losses. However, that all goes out the window when the teams take the field this weekend with the 2A state title on the line. Let’s take a look at what the 2A division of the IHSA state finals will look like.


This will be the first state appearance in school history for the Trojans. Coach Brian Whartnaby has made quite the turnaround for the Trojans, as they were 6-21 in his first season in 2019. Despite their tight 7-6 win in extra innings in the Sectional Semifinal, the 2021 playoffs have been smooth sailing for Timothy Christian.

The Trojans have relied heavily on their ace, Ben Jones, throughout the season. The workhorse starter has compiled 51.1 innings of work, boasting a 1.36 ERA and has struck out 74. In the Super-Sectional game, Jones twirled a complete game with one earned run and 13 strikeouts. Not to mention, Jones hit .366 with 16 RBI’s on the year.

The team leader in RBI’s was junior Fletcher Roemmich. Roemmich will be one to watch this weekend as he leads the team in mostly every offensive category, and will be looking to do some damage in the finals.

CJ James is another offensive threat, driving in 24 runs while hitting at a clip of .372.

This is the program's first ever trip, but the Trojans have some weapons to make some noise in Normal.


Freeburg will be making their first trip to the state finals since 2014, which resulted in a third place finish, which was also under current head coach Drew Greicke.  This Freeburg squad has been a scoring machine this postseason, scoring eleven or more runs in each game.  

The Midgets have four regular starters hitting over .400: Colin Brueggemann (.472), Eli Hill (.455), Eli Hoerner (.429), and Lane Otten (.417). 

Brueggemann has been doing damage all year long, leading the team in doubles with 17, as well as home runs, with 12 long-balls on the year. Hill has 19 extra-base hits on the season, while Hoerner and Otten each have 15. 

Do not let the offensive numbers fool you, the Midgets have gotten it done on the mound all year long, as well. Brueggemann has been a horse on the mound, going 9-0, throwing 46.1 innings while striking out 47. Kamden Casey has been lights out as well, throwing 39.1 innings, good for a 7-0 record, only allowing 4 runs all season, equating to an ERA of 0.71. Aidan Lougeay has a 1.14 ERA in 24.2 innings, while Lane Otten has a 1.25 in 39.1 IP. Ethan Smith and Austin York have an ERA in the 1.8’s. 

This Freeburg team has done it all year long, and have the numbers to prove it, we will see what the Midgets are made of in Normal.


U-High will not have a long trip to state, rather right in their backyard. The Pioneers are loaded with talent in the program's first trip to the finals since 2012, when they took home the state championship.

The offense is led by Karson Bonaparte, a highly talented Notre Dame commit who is looking to end his high school career with a state title. The right-handed hitting infielder has been doing damage all year long, hitting .420 with 20 extra-base hits, which includes 8 homers and 37 RBIs. MacCallan Conklin has been another hitter in this Pioneer lineup to consistently do damage. Conklin is hitting .439 with 17 extra-base hits. Conklin and Bonaparte make for a stout middle of the order. Evan Jones is another player in this U-High lineup that has been consistent all year, hitting .360 and scoring 29 runs. Matt Armstrong has been a mainstay in the Pioneer offense hitting .382 and scoring 29 runs.

The Pioneer’s have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the state, regardless of class and the numbers back it up. Every arm on staff that has thrown over 15 innings on the year has a sub-2 ERA. Jake Swartz, an Illinois commit, has been a workhorse for the Pioneers. The right-hander has thrown 38.1 innings, striking out 61, which equates to 14.3 K/9. Swartz has only allowed three runs all year good for a 0.55 ERA. Another highly-talented arm that U-High features is an Iowa commit, Matt Sauser. The right-handed pitcher has an ERA of 0.20, allowing only one run in 35 innings pitched this season and has struck out 53.  Chase Adams and Conklin have also been an integral for the Pioneers on the mound. Expect to see a combination of these as well as Jack Bach, Connor Herbert, and SWIC commit Trevor Young

This U-High team looks to give Steve Paxton his first ever state title as the coach of the Pioneers. Paxton has a 164-44 record in his tenure there, and a 446-209 career record. 


The Cyclones look to capture their first state title since 1987. This year’s squad is loaded with experienced talent, with seniors making up the majority of the roster. Sacred-Heart Griffin seems to have all the makings of a state title contender, as they have only dropped a single game all year. 

Offensively, the Cyclones can get it done using a wide variety of guys. Sam Antonacci is a Heartland CC commit that has put up video-game-like numbers this season. Antonacci is hitting at a .558 clip, including 17 extra-base hits, 35 RBI’s, and a whopping 51 runs. Nic Crowe is the only Cyclone with more RBI’s, tallying 39 on the season while hitting .414. 

Nolan Healey, Quincy University commit Louie Bartletti, and Paul Gilmore are all other offensive weapons to be on the lookout for at the state finals as well.

Mitch Dye is a RHP that the Cyclones have rode all year. The 6-foot-3 righty has thrown 39.0 innings, going 7-0 with a 1.97 ERA. Brannan Kraft has been another reliable arm for SHG as the right-hander has thrown 33.2 innings compiling a 2.29 ERA as well as a 7-0 record. 

The Cyclones use a wide variety of arms out of the bullpen, including, but not limited to: Peyton Blackburn, Quinn Butler, Jaydon Davis, and Teddy Hobson

SHG looks poised to take home a trophy, time will tell who becomes 2021 state champ this weekend at Duffy Bass Field.