CHAMPAIGN — Casey Erickson watched dwell when John Staab’s Champaign Central baseball group defeated Chatham Glenwood in a 2017 Class 3A sectional championship sport.
“I know him and Pat — a former coach here, Pat Moomey — have had their battles,” Erickson mentioned. “From one classy team to another, I’ve got nothing but respect for them. They play hard and they never quit.”
The Maroons’ ceaseless tenacity nonetheless is on show below Staab in 2021. But the Titans, now coached by Erickson, possess the identical form of grit.
“I’ve worked my butt off for 20 years to get this program on par with programs like Chatham,” Staab mentioned. “Just not quite there (Wednesday night).”
Chatham staved off Central 7-5 in an eight-inning Class 3A sectional semifinal sport Wednesday evening at Spalding Park.
The third-seeded Titans (13-9) and top-seeded Maroons (22-10) displayed loads of never-say-die perspective as one squad needed to drop the curtain on its season.
That wound up being Central when Chatham produced two eighth-inning runs on only one hit.
“Our kids grinded, and they have been here for the most part the last two months,” Staab mentioned. “So (I’m) proud of them. Just didn’t play clean enough.”
The groups mixed to make use of seven pitchers — the Maroons deploying 5 — who threw 334 pitches over the course of three hours. The groups additionally mixed for 5 errors, 16 strikeouts, 11 walks issued (10 by the Maroons), 17 runners left on base, two runners caught stealing and one runner picked off.
On Central’s facet, senior ace Ben Dickerson was the lone athlete unavailable to take the mound after tossing a whole sport throughout Monday’s regional ultimate win towards Rantoul.
“We were going to just try to mix and match and just try to piece something together,” Staab mentioned. “Kids battled. Just didn’t play clean enough.”
The Maroons’ pitching carousel started when sophomore starter Kendall Crawford surrendered a leadoff residence run to junior Nolan McMasters through the first inning and a two-run shot to junior Jase Daley through the second to present the Titans a 3-0 lead.
“You always want to throw the first punch and get ahead and support your pitcher,” Erickson mentioned. “That’s what we did.”
McMasters simply so occurred to be that beginning pitcher. He despatched down senior Nate Allen and juniors Jake Munroe and Carter Hall in order to open his evening on the mound, however issues by no means once more had been that easy.
Freshman T.J. Pipkins singled in a run, senior Jack Doubet scored on an error and Pipkins scored on a handed ball to tie the sport at 3 in the second inning.
Staab’s No. 4-9 hitters achieved many of the Maroons’ offensive injury, accounting for all 5 runs and 7 of the membership’s 9 hits.
“Good to see,” Staab mentioned. “Those guys have grown a little bit.”
The Titans pulled forward 4-3 through the third inning when junior Eli Curtis singled in a run towards Central junior Will O’Gorman. Chatham prolonged its edge to 5-3 on an RBI single from sophomore Parker Detmers.
As the Titans had been choosing up runs, McMasters was preventing off hordes of Maroons in search of the identical.
McMasters labored out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third inning and stranded runners on second and third in the fourth.
“I know he was beat,” Erickson mentioned of the long run Illinois-Springfield athlete. “He threw over 100 (pitches). It’s the most he’s thrown all year. … I can’t imagine taking him out. I couldn’t. Got to win or lose with him, so we rode him as long as we could.”
That wound up being six innings and 111 pitches. But Central scratched throughout two extra runs earlier than McMasters’ exit, each in the fifth inning, to tie the sport at 5. Crawford scored all the best way from first base on a throwing error, and Pipkins drove in Doubet with a protracted sacrifice fly to middle discipline.
Sophomore Owen Hobbs and senior Leo Severin stored Chatham off the board through the sixth and seventh innings, with Severin inducing an bases-loaded, inning-ending double play off junior Will Plattner’s bat in the sixth.
McMasters and Curtis silenced the Maroons over these two innings, as effectively.
But Severin encountered bother in the eighth. Daley singled to guide off after Hall was unable to discipline a popup behind residence plate earlier in the at-bat. Daley superior to second on a wild pitch earlier than junior Sam Hulvey walked.
McMasters then hit a possible double-play grounder to Munroe at shortstop. The switch to sophomore Charlie Cekander at second base went off with no hitch, however Cekander’s toss to first obtained beneath Pipkins’ glove and allowed junior pinch runner Garrett Rath to attain to present the Titans a 6-5 lead.
Allen finally relieved Severin and allowed an RBI groundout by Curtis earlier than cleansing up the inning.
Central’s Mitchell Crompton singled with two out in the underside of the eighth, however Curtis fanned Allen to finish the Maroons’ hopes.
“Just a back-and-forth game, but we just … kept picking guys up,” Erickson mentioned. “I knew we were going to come out on top. I just had that feeling.”
The tough end result for Staab’s crew joined that of St. Thomas More baseball, for which Staab’s son Blake performs. The Sabers misplaced to Mt. Pulaski 9-5 on Wednesday in a Class 1A sectional semifinal.
“I’m not going to lie: I kind of keep track of that, and it’s hard,” John Staab mentioned. “It’s hard to miss my son’s stuff. … But I’m dedicated to this program and these guys.”
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