Senior Andrew Yancik pitched a four-hit shutout and freshman Drake Westcott set the tone early with a first-inning home run to lead Edwardsville past Normal West 7-0 on Saturday in the title game of the Class 4A Bloomington Sectional Baseball Tournament.
Entering the game with a 4-1 record and 1.35 earned run average, Yancik pitched out of trouble in the first two innings before settling in while Edwardsville (32-7) tallied four runs against three Wildcats pitchers in the first three innings to take a 4-0 lead.
Edwardsville then added a single run in the sixth inning and two in the seventh as it coasted to its state record 17th sectional championship and into a super-sectional match-up with (Orland Park) Sandburg at the University of Illinois in Champaign at 4 p.m. Monday.
Sandburg defeated (New Lenox) Lincoln-Way Central 7-3 to win the Homewood Flossmoor Sectional on Saturday.
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But pitching on a hot, humid day at Illinois Wesleyan University, Yancik’s focus was on the Wildcats.
“I got behind a few hitters early in the game, but once I settled in ... all of my pitches were working and especially my slider. It was moving well,” Yancik said. “The home run that (Drake) Westcott hit in the first inning big for us. But its the sectional final, every run you score is big.
“I didn’t really know anything about the state record for sectional titles. It’s good to be part of making history.”
Westcott didn’t make history with his home run in the first inning, but he did set the tone of things to come for both the Tigers and the Wildcats.
Batting against Normal West starter Nick Watson — one of five pitchers used by Normal West coach Chris Hawkins — Westcott took a 3-1 fastball both over the right field fence and the road beyond the fence for the only run the Tigers would need.
“It was a 3-1 fastball over the plate ... Yes, I knew it was out when I hit it,” Westcott said, smiling. “I didn’t see where it landed. I just put my head down and ran.”
Normal West threatened in the bottom of the first inning when Peyton Dillingham doubled and Yancik walked Jake Marti. But Yancik retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning.
The Tigers added two runs in the second inning when Cole Hampton and Dylan Burris drove in runs with clutch two-out singles.
But trailing 3-0, Normal West had its best scoring chance of the day in the bottom of the second inning. Watson walked and Andrew Kurdys singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Watson was picked off second base for the first out but Austin Collinson reached on an error to put runners on first and third base.
The No. 9 batter in the Wildcats order — Austin Schwartz then attempted a suicide squeeze that Yancik fielded and shoveled to the catcher who tagged out Kurdys for the second out.
When Yancik struck out Dillingham to end the inning, the Tigers had a 3-0 lead and Normal West had lost a chance to get back into the game.
“We knew about him (Yancik). We knew that he had given up only 27 hits all year,” Hawkins said. “We had a couple of chances to score early, but I don’t think it deflated us when we didn’t score. Maybe it was him (Yancik). He’s a good pitcher and he got better as the game went on.”
Yancik helped his own cause in the top of the third with a run-scoring triple. He also added an RBI double in the seventh.
Yancik’s performance on the mound pleased Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser.
“Andrew was good today, very good,” Funkhouser said. “He mixed his pitches well and when he needed too, he stepped up and made biog pitches in key situations when they (Normal West) had runners in scoring position.
“We hit the ball well and our defense was great all day. I thought the last couple of runs we scored late were big.”
Normal West finished the season 21-15.