Dozer Park, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals Class A affiliate Peoria Chiefs, will take a break from minor league action to host the 2014 IHSA Class 1A and Class 2A Baseball State Finals on Friday and Saturday, June 6-7. The 2014 state tournament marks the 75th annual edition of the state tournament, the seventh year of the four-class series and the fourth season that Dozer Park has hosted the event.
The tourney kicks off with New Athens and Webber meeting in the first Class 1A semifinal at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, while Argenta-Oreana and Illinois Lutheran follow in the second semifinal at noon. The Class 2A action continues at 3:00 p.m. when 2013 runner-up Pleasant Plains meets Freeburg in a semifinal. Friday action concludes with Byron and Westmont meeting at 5:00 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Saturday’s first pitch will occur at 9:00 a.m. with the Class 1A third-place game, followed by the 1A championship, 2A third-place game and 2A title game. Fans can watch every inning from Dozer Park live on the NFHS Network via www.IHSA.tv, as IHSA TV veterans Dave Bernhard and Mark Lindo return to call the action.
NEW ATHENS YELLOW JACKETS (19-17) vs.
WEBBER TROJANS (22-7)
New Athens appears to be the Cinderella of the field, as Scott Wine’s club has heated up after a 3-9 start and enters its first state final appearance since 1982 having won eight of its last 10. Senior pitcher Nick Ozier stepped up to earn the win in the Super-Sectional, while Sectional winner Brandon Contratto (6-3, 1.94 ERA, 81 K) has been the Yellow Jackets top pitcher this season. Contratto (.347, 21 RBI) and senior Tyler Meyer (.358, 24 RBI, 3 HR) have paced the New Athens offense in 2014 (Click here to see what MLB Hall of Famer played for New Athens in 1948 Baseball State Finals).
Despite its 22 wins, Webber is an underdog in its own right with just 11 players on head coach Sam Root’s roster, which was one strike away from elimination in Regional play. The team numbers may not be large, but the offensive numbers are a different story, with eight Trojans hitting .300 or better this year, including junior SS/OF Zane Austin (.442, 47 R) and senior catcher Lane Moser (.393, 39 RBI). Moser can also pitch if needed, but junior Logan Ganieany (8-4, 3.12 ERA, 92 K) leads the staff.
ARGENTA-OREANA BOMBERS (23-5) vs.
ILLINOIS LUTHERAN CHARGERS (25-2)
Argenta-Oreana may boast Class 1A’s top 1-2 pitching punch, as the Bombers seek their first state title in legendary head coach Tom Saunches’ (30 seasons, 508-215) fourth state final appearance. University of Kentucky commit Keegan McHood (10-1, 0.52 ERA, 125 K) has allowed five earned runs this season, while senior Gage Eller (7-0, 2.20 ERA, 83 K) would be the ace on many staffs. McHood (.456, 31 RBI) and senior centerfield Logan Jackson (.413, 30 RBI, 5 HR) have been the Bombers most potent bats this season (see A-O win its Super-Sectional).
From 0-9 in his first season in 2000, to the school’s first-ever state final trip, head coach Mark Kjenstad has brought Illinois Lutheran full circle. Led by junior pitchers Grant Farmer (9-0, 0.25 ERA, 97 K) and Jared Buzan (7-1, 0.70 ERA, 74 K), who are both also hitting over .360 on the year, the Chargers have held opponents to two runs or fewer in 22 of their 27 games this season. Offensively, senior shortstop Sam Geraci has been one of the toughest outs in the state, leading Illinois Lutheran in batting average (.526) and RBI’s (36).
PLEASANT PLAINS CARDINALS (29-11) vs.
FREEBURG MIDGETS (30-8)
All seven Pleasant Plains state final trips have come under Hall of Fame coach Dave Greer, who hopes to lead the Cardinals to their second state title after finishing as the runner-up last season. Nine regulars from that team are gone, but juniors Mitch Koehler (11-2, 2.33 ERA, 60 K) and Chad Weller (6-2, 1.33 ERA, 85 K), who combined to throw 3.1 scoreless innings in the 2013 title game, have emerged as the staff aces in 2014. Junior 3B Cole Hamilton (.413, 39 R) sets the table for the offense, while senior 1B Dylan Bee (.378, 28 RBI, 3 HR) hits for power.
Drew Gericke, who played at Freeburg under legendary coach Fred Blumberg, looks to follow in Blumberg’s footsteps by leading the school to its second state title and first since 1989. The Midgets have won 11 straight, allowing three runs or fewer in 10 of those games, thanks in part to senior Milton Pinkston (7-2, 0.97 ERA, 80 K) and senior Nick Yung (8-0, 1.42 ERA). Junior outfielder Cody Sieenberger (.454, 44 R) and sophomore catcher Keegan Baxmeyer (.412, 39 RBI) have been the catalysts of the Freeburg offense.
BYRON TIGERS (34-5) vs.
WESTMONT SENTINELS (27-7-1)
It took Byron 10 innings to secure its first state final trip in over a decade, but the Tigers prevailed 3-2 over Sherrard to make their first trip under seventh-year head coach Ray Bielskis. Nathan Peterson (12-0, 1.23 ERA, 95 K) was the complete-game winner in the Super, but the Tigers boast two other pitchers (Dan Lowe, Dennis Reedy) with 8-1 records heading into the state finals. Senior catcher Jack Fleeger (.443, 43 R, 39 RBI, 5 HR) knocked in the game-winning run in the Super and has paced the Tigers at the plate all year long.
Westmont had the strange fate of winning its Super-Sectional against Ottawa Marquette 2-0 despite being no-hit in the contest. Senior Zach Moran (7-1, 1.50 ERA) countered with four hitless innings en route to a complete game two-hit shutout victory, and forms a strong pitching tandem with junior Austin Loehman (5-2, 3.16 ERA). Monday’s cold bats appear to be an aberration, as junior shortstop Charlie Donovan (.500, 50 R, 47 RBI) and senior DH Tommy Franczak (.407, 49 RBI) have helped the Sentinels score double-digit runs 12 times this season.
Dozer Park (Peoria)
Friday, June 6
Class 1A Semifinals
New Athens vs. Webber
Argenta-Oreana vs. Illinois Lutheran
Class 2A Semifinals
Pleasant Plains vs. Freeburg
Byron vs. Westmont
Saturday, June 7
Class 1A Finals
9:00 a.m. - Third-Place
11:30 p.m. - Championship
Class 2A Finals
3:00 p.m. - Third-Place
5:00 p.m. - Championship
All games available live on www.IHSA.tv
WMIX 940 AM (Mt. Vernon)
WVYN 90.9 FM (Bluford)
WHOW 1520AM/92.3FM (Clinton)
WRHL 1060 AM (Rochelle)
RESULTS & BOX SCORES
IHSA Baseball Page
$6 per day
HISTORY & RECORDS
2014 1A State Series
2014 2A State Series
Record Book & Past Champions