Baseball

Aces snap string with regional victory

McLEANSBORO, Ill. – Mt. Carmel certainly picked the right time to end its’ longest slump of the baseball season.

The Golden Aces defeated Eldorado, 8-3, Thursday night in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 2A regional tournament here. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak. Mt. Carmel (9-16) advances to the championship game Saturday at 11 a.m. against No. 1-seed Carmi, which defeated Fairfield, 12-4, in the other semi.

Mt. Carmel trailed early, 3-0, before rallying for five runs in the fifth inning. The biggest blow was a two-run double by Austin Rue.

The Aces added three more runs in the sixth to make it 8-3. Cort Rodgers matched Rue with a two-run double in the inning.

Pete Smith got the win for the Aces. He went the distance, striking out 10 and walking five in gaining the victory.

“They got a couple of early runs, then he settled in and shut the door,:” said Mt. Carmel coach John Copeland.

Winners from Mc Leansboro, Robinson, Vandalia and  Trenton gather in Greenville next week for the Class 2A sectional. At Trenton, host Wesclin scored three runs in the top of the sixth to defeat Greenville, 4-1, and will face Breese Central in the finals. Championship games are already set in Robinson and Vandalia.  Teutopolis and Marshall will play Saturday at Robinson, while Effingham St. Anthony and Shelbyville play at Vandalia.

In Class 1A, Edwards County will play Red Hill Saturday in the finals in Albion, with the winner going to Louisville for the sectional.

Warriors lose in District tourney

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa - Third-ranked Iowa Western erupted for five runs over the last two innings to overtake Wabash Valley, 7-4, in the first round of the NJCAA Northern District baseball tournament Friday afternoon.

WVC (44-12), which had an 18-game winning streak snapped, now must battle its way back through the losers bracket of the double-elimination tournament. The Warriors will face Marshalltown, Iowa (22-34) Saturday at 9 a.m. Marshalltown lost to South Suburban, 12-4, in the other first-round game.

WVC wins Region 24 championship

MARION, Ill. — Wabash Valley did not need any late-inning heroics of the sort necessary to win the first two games of the NJCAA Region 24 baseball tournament.

Instead, the Warriors put up most of their numbers early in Monday’s final, bolting to a 5-0 lead over Kaskaskia in the first two innings.

From there, they managed to keep the Blue Devils at arm’s length for a 9-5 win in the title game at Rent One Park.

WVC (45-11), winners of 18 straight games, advance to the NJCAA Northern District tournament which begins Friday in Iowa.

WVC bullpen getting ready

Wabash Valley College baseball coach Rob Fournier has been busy with his bullpen this week in practice, putting them through simulated situations.

Because they haven’t been needed in actual games lately.

“We didn’t get to use them last week,” said Fournier, referencing the quick work his team made of Shawnee last week in the first round of the Region 24 tournament, winning 10-0 twice to sweep a best-of-three series and advance to the Final Four Saturday at Rent One Park (home of the Southern Illinois Miners) in Marion.

“We feel really good about our bullpen but we haven’t been able to get to them sometimes. They get a little rusty, so that’s a little bit of a concern.”

The Shawnee games came after a one-week layoff as it was, so the bullpen will have been idle for a full 14 days when the 15th-ranked Warriors face John A. Logan at 3 p.m. in the double-elimination tourney. WVC (42-11) is the No. 1 seed heading in.
Second-seed Kaskaskia (29-15) faces Southwestern (36-17) in the noon tourney opener.

The bullpen’s lack of use should change quickly, however.

“There aren’t going to be any more of ‘those’ games. I’d love for them to be that way, but the bottom line is we will use everybody,” Fournier said.

WVC, on a 15-game winning streak, swept Logan in a 3-game Great Rivers Athletic Conference series April 10-12. After a 14-3 win in Carterville, the Warriors finished off the Volunteers with 9-3 and 11-8 wins in Mt. Carmel.

Logan (25-20) “is a scary bunch,” according to Fournier. “They have very good pitching.”

In the first meeting between the two, WVC roughed up Logan’s No. 1 hurler, Joey Marciano, who lasted only three innings.

Marciano (8-2) hasn’t lost a game since and has lowered his ERA to 1.84. He went 7.2 innings for a no-decision in Logan’s 7-4, 10-inning win over Lake Land Saturday, after one-hitting Rend Lake over seven innings in his final regular-season appearance.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound freshman lefthander from Chicago “has been dominant all year,” Fournier said. “He’s going to want revenge.”

Philip Diehl will start the first game for Wabash Valley, with Zach Lewis available for a second game.

One of the bullpen arms will be unavailable, with Matt Schultz out for the year. “We’ve had guys step up in the bullpen all year,” Fournier said.

The Region 24 winner advances to the NJCAA inter-regional playoffs along with winners from Region 4 (northern Illinois) and Region 11 (Iowa), which will host the tourney May 9-18.

NOTES: The Warriors will mark their first return to Rent One’s artificial turf in four years, the last time with Keith Butler as a pitcher. “It’s an awesome atmosphere,” Fournier said.

Edwards County holds off Aces

At the end of three innings Friday, Edwards County led Mt. Carmel, 5-4. The Aces could not deliver in run-scoring opportunities after that, however.

When the Lions squeezed in a run in the top of the seventh, that was more than enough to secure a 6-4 non-conference win at Dee White Field.

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