Pleasant Plains advances to second straight 2A title game



By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

PEORIA, IL – It didn’t look good for Pleasant Plains in the first inning, spotting Freeburg two runs thanks to some shaky defense and erratic pitching. But once the Cardinals settled into their comfort zone, which is to say run, scrap and play solid defense, Pleasant Plains ran away with a 5-2 victory in the Class 2A state semifinals at Dozer Park on Friday.

Pleasant Plains (30-11) now advances to the 2A state championship game for the second straight year, and will face Byron, which defeated Westmont 6-2 in the other semifinal. Pleasant Plains, which is seeking its second state championship under legendary coach Dave Greer, lost to Lisle in the title game last year.

“It’s a great honor to get back to the championship game,” said Greer, who has guided the school to seven state appearances. “This team has a lot of fight. This isn’t the biggest team we’ve had, but they’re tough.”

Once Pleasant Plains settled down, it was off and running – literally. The Cardinals swiped five bases, squeeze bunted, hit-and-run, took extra bases, and basically ran wild on Freeburg (30-9), which had upended 2A powerhouse Teutopolis in the supersectionals.

Pleasant Plains broke open a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning when it pushed three runs across. Junior first baseman Dylan Bee was the catalyst, ripping a leadoff double, and then stole third with one out. Alex Edwards followed with a run-scoring single. Later, Zach Ross delivered a squeeze bunt that yielded two runs thanks to some aggressive base-running.

“That’s how we play,” said Greer. “We probably led the state in getting thrown out. We will run on everybody.”

Meanwhile, junior right-hander Mitch Koehler (12-2) settled in, feeding Freeburg a steady diet of off-speed pitches that consistently kept the Midgets off-balance. After a rough first inning, Koehler pitched a complete game, yielding five hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

Edwards paced Pleasant Plains with two hits and an RBI. Bee finished 1-for-2 with a double, RBI and two stolen bases. The Cardinals had five hits in the game against Freeburg senior right-hander Nick Yung (8-1).

Third baseman Ty Dill went 2-for-3 with a run to lead Freeburg, and sophomore catcher Keegan Baxmeyer went 1-for-2 with two-run double in the first inning.

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