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HS baseball: Undefeated Gillespie Miners win regional title over Southwestern

The Gillespie High School baseball team celebrates its third regional championship in four years after defeating Southwestern 4-3 at Schneider Park in Brighton May 20. The Miners improved to 31-0 overall and handed the 26-11 Piasa Birds their first home loss. Enquirer~Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.


Carlinville falls to Shelbyville in regional championship

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Two undefeated seasons were on the line during the championship game of the Illinois High School Association Class 2A Piasa regional May 20.

Seeking to keep its first perfect campaign in school history alive, Gillespie needed to conquer a Southwestern Piasa Birds’ team that had yet to lose on its home field in Brighton.

The Birds applied pressure and battled until the end, but Kamryn Link refused to flinch under pressure and led GHS to a tight 4-3 victory.

Link went the distance on the bump and picked up his eighth victory in as many decisions for the 31-0 Miners. He additionally helped his own cause offensively with a clutch two-out two-run single that shifted momentum and gave Gillespie a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third against Southwestern hurler Adam Hale after the Birds had been gifted the game’s first run without recording a hit.

Gillespie widened its advantage thanks to a pair of RBI knocks from Jack Kaylor and Chase Helvey in the top of the fourth.

Southwestern began to chip away in the final frames. Hank Bouillon ripped a single under the glove of Gillespie third baseman Colton Bultema in the sixth to make it 4-2. With the Birds down to their final out in the seventh, Rocky Darr found the outfield grass for an RBI hit. Bouillon then stepped to the plate, representing the winning run in his final home at-bat, but couldn’t come through a second time. The SWHS senior bounced a softly-struck ball back the mound, which Link fielded cleanly and flipped to first baseman Bryce Hohnsbehn for the clincher.

The Miners, regional champions for the third time in the past four years under Jeremy Smith, advanced to the Pleasant Plains sectional against Maroa-Forsyth.

Southwestern was denied its first regional title since 2017, but tied its all-time school record with 26 wins in a single season. The Birds accomplished that feat by beating New Berlin, 7-3, in the regional semifinal. Southwestern finished 26-11 overall.

Carlinville falls to Shelbyville in regional championship

One of the greatest seasons in Carlinville baseball history came to a bitter end last weekend at the Sullivan regional, which consisted of mutliple classics.

The Cavaliers managed to fend off a valiant semifinal upset bid from Pana. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough left in the tank to survive Shelbyville.

Ryenn Hart sent Carlinville to the regional championship game with a walkoff double in the bottom of the seventh against Pana. The Cavaliers blew a save in the top of the frame but survived and advanced, 10-9.

Henry Kufa pitched five strong innings against the regional champion Rams, allowing four runs on five hits with 11 strikouts. Kolton Costello exceled in relief with two scoreless frames. Kufa, Liam Tieman and Dane Boatman each delivered RBI hits at the plate, but the same fate from 2019 wasn’t meant to be for Carlinville this time around.

Shelbyville avenged a regional title loss it had suffered against the Cavaliers four years ago and walked way victorious, 4-3, after getting to Kufa with three important first inning tallies.

Carlinville, which answered with two runs in its half of the first then counterattacked an insurance tally in the fifth, finished the season 21-3 overall.

Other action

In other action, all of the other Macoupin County teams suffered a first round exit in the regional quarterfinals.
Staunton (10-15) and North Mac (13-6) went down at home while Bunker Hill (9-15) was handed an 8-7 road loss at Carrollton.

Staunton fell 7-0 against East Alton-Wood River and North Mac came up short against former Sangamo rival Auburn, 10-7.