Prep Baseball Report

Reed-Custer Wins 2A State Title With An Extra-Inning Walk Off

By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Reed-Custer 7, St. Joseph-Ogden 6 (8 innings)

PEORIA, IL – The Reed-Custer Comets jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings and had their ace, Brent Headrick, on the mound. If you were coach Jerry Cougill, you could not have scripted a better start to the championship game. St. Joseph-Ogden on the other hand, continued to play their game and eventually mounted a thrilling comeback, tying the game at six, with a  five run top of the fifth inning. Reed-Custer, collected themselves and in the bottom of the eighth Jordan Walden delivered a walk-off single, giving Reed-Custer the 7-6 victory extra inning victory and their first State Title since 1984-85.

With two outs, nobody on and the score tied at six in the bottom of the eighth inning, Travis Schoonover served a breaking ball into center field for a single to keep the inning alive for Reed-Custer. Neil O’Donnell followed with his own single to center, bringing Eastern Illinois recruit Walden, the Reed-Custer three-hole hitter, to the plate. Walden jumped on the first pitch he saw and lined it into center field. With two outs, Schoonover, the base-runner at second, was off on contact and beat the throw to home from the center-fielder, scoring the game-winning run for the Comets.

St. Joseph-Ogden, easily could have packed it in, trailing 6-1 entering the top of the fifth, facing Headrick, an Illinois St. commit and one of the best pitchers in Class 2A this season. Instead the Spartans of St. Joseph-Ogden strung quality at-bat after quality at-bat together and scored five runs in the frame to tie the ballgame.

The first seven batters reached base safely for the Spartans in the top half of the fifth inning. Jake Pence delivered the first of three doubles in the inning for St. Joseph-Ogden. With runners on first and second, down 6-1, Pence took an 88 mph fastball from Headrick and drove an RBI double off the top of the right-field wall. Two batters later Kohlton Johnson hit the second double of the inning, this time scoring two runs and cutting the lead to 6-5. With Johnson, the tying run on second, Dalton Parker squared up another 88 mph fastball and lined a game-tying double, the third double of the inning, into the right-center field gap. The game remained tied at six until the bottom of the eighth inning when Reed-Custer mounted the game winning two-out rally.

Reed-Custer jumped out early with five runs in the first two innings off of St. Joseph-Ogden starter Colton Carr. Carr, a Kankakee Community College recruit, remarkably had only given up three earned runs all year entering the day. In the first inning, Walden delivered a run-scoring single and Eddie Wilkins chipped in with an RBI double down the left-field line, giving the Comets the early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the second inning Reed-Custer was back at it, this time scoring three runs. Schoonover and Hunter Murawski had RBI singles in the frame while Neil O’Donnell chipped in with an RBI fielder’s choice. Murawski would add another RBI, in the bottom of the fifth inning, on a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt, giving the Comets what seemed to be a commanding 6-1 lead at the time.

Both starters battled throughout and never came out of the game. Despite giving up five early runs, Carr settled in for the Spartans and went 7.2 innings before taking the tough loss on the game-winning RBI single by Walden in the eighth.

Headrick after coming out of the bullpen for one hitter in the semifinal contest, the night before, had enough in the tank today to gut out eight total innings and 122 pitches. He also struck out nine in the complete game victory.           

In the third-place game …

Rockford Lutheran 4, Murphysboro 3: In the Class 2A Third Place game, the Crusaders of Rockford Lutheran captured the third place trophy, with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Murphyboro.

After spotting Murphysboro an early 3-1 lead, Rockford Lutheran chipped away with one run in the bottom of the fourth and two in the fifth. Justin Mercer tied the game with an RBI double in the fifth inning and Brady West followed with his own RBI double, scoring Mercer, who turned out to be the game-winning run.

Mercer also came out of the bullpen to pick up the win on the mound. Mercer threw the final two and a third innings, giving up no hits, no runs, while striking out three and walking one.

Marshall Grammer went 3-for-4 with a run scored for Murphysboro. Braden Miller chipped in two hits with and RBI in the losing effort.