CENTRALIA, Ill. — Wabash Valley College won’t get to host this weekend’s Northern District baseball tournament. But, at least they’re in it.
The Warriors first won the game that gained them entrance to the next round, defeating Rend Lake 10-0. But, they continued to struggle against red-hot Kaskaskia, losing 17-7 to finish second in the NJCAA Region 24 tournament on Monday.
Because of that, Kaskaskia (36-10), which finished second to WVC (44-14) in the regular-season Great Rivers Athletic Conference race, will get to host the Northern District tourney, carrying a 12-game winning streak on to the next round. But, the Warriors get in because this year the region gets two spots in the district field.
The Blue Devils, who will host a post-season tourney for the second straight weekend, now have a 3-2 series edge over Wabash Valley.
Kyle Rupe was masterful in the elimination game, throwing a one-hitter at Rend Lake in a 10-0 victory. Now 5-2 on the year, the 6-foot-1 sophomore righthander from Indianapolis kept the ball in play, walking only one while striking out two.
WVC, ranked 12th in the most recent NJCAA poll, scored two runs in the first, then added one in the second and five more in the third, coasting in from there against Rend Lake (37-18), who with three games left in the season was tied for first place in the league before faltering after that.
Cole Gleason was 3-of-4 with three rbi’s. Jeff Smith was perfect at the plate, 3-for-3, adding an RBI.
The Warriors knew they had to defeat Kaskaskia twice in a row to win the Region 24 title and secure home-field advantage for the districts. But the Blue Devils turned a close affair into a rout with seven runs in the ninth inning to win by 10 or more runs for the second straight time in the series.
Danny Heim started for WVC and gave five runs in 3.2 innings. Patrick McGuff was roughed up for three runs in one inning of work. Matt Geislinger worked the final 4.2 innings, but allowed nine runs on 13 hits. Heim took the loss, dropping to 3-2.
Edgar Figueroa, Manuel DeJesus and Conor Dishman each had two hit games against Kaskaskia. Gleason drove home two runs with a double. Jewell also had 2 runs batted in.
Ten district winners will send teams to the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Col., including the Northern, which also brings in teams from Region 4 (South Suburban, 30-23 on the year) and Region 11 (fourth-ranked Iowa Western, 44-12).
Play begins in the double-elimination tourney on Thursday.