Prep Baseball & Softball

June 2, 2014

Freeburg headed to state baseball tourney after win over T-Town

Twenty-five years ago, Mark Dill helped the Freeburg Midgets win their first state baseball championship as a standout pitcher and infielder.

On Monday, Dill's son -- Freeburg sophomore Ty Dill -- sent the Midget to state once again with a two-out RBI single in the seventh inning that helped ignite a 3-1 victory over Teutopolis at the Class 2A Sauget Super-Sectional.

"It feels great," Ty Dill said. "It gets my dad off my back because he went to state."

Dill got an 0-2 fastball from T-Town's Louis Niemerg and dumped a single into an open patch of ground between the right fielder and center fielder.

"I was really nervous after that strike," Dill said. "I was like 'Oh great, 0-2.' He threw me another fastball, I inside-outed it and I got lucky when it landed. We scored a run. It wasn't hit very hard, but it fell so it's a hit."'

Freeburg coach Drew Gericke also knows the feeling of making a state tournament trip. He did it in 2001 while playing for former Freeburg coach Fred Blumberg.

"As a senior I went up state as a player and I want nothing more in the world for this group to experience it themselves," said Gericke, whose 30-8 team will face Pleasant Plains at the state tourney in Peoria at 3 p.m. Friday. "The work they put in ... they were at practice an hour early yesterday before I even showed up, taking ground balls.

"You don't see that a lot in high school kids. They wanted it --and we're going to go up to Peoria and hopefully finish some business."

Freeburg senior Milton Pinkston (7-2) was dominant on the mound, limiting the Wooden Shoes (31-6) to only three hits and one unearned run while striking out six.

"Keeping my composure was the one and only thing I tried to do the whole game," Pinkston said. "The coaches have been telling me for about a week that I've got to keep it down a little, have to stay focused. I tried to do my best and it worked out in the end."

Not that he wasn't a bit jittery at times with so much on the line, but getting two runs from his teammates for a 3-1 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh made it a little easier.

Freeburg has won its last 10 games.

"My heart was definitely racing," he said. "I had to figure out how to keep that down. I took a little extra time in between each pitch to take my breath and kind of settle down and throw the next pitch."

Freeburg senior Nick Yung, 3-for-3 with a double, singled leading off the seventh. Yung was bunted to second by Brandon Fritz and Jake Homann flied out for the second out.

Cody Siebenberger walked to put runners at first and second for Dill, who fell behind 0-2.

"Ty's a baseball player," Gericke said. "He doesn't let the situation get too big for him and that's what I told him right there before the at-bat. I said 'Own this situation. You know baseball, see the ball, hit the ball.' I have confidence in him and that's what the whole team's been about, coming up in big situations."

Chris Smith added another RBI single right behind Dill to in the seventh to Pinkston a two-run cushion headed to the bottom of the seventh.

Gericke said Pinkston was effective despite a short stint between starts, having notched a sectional win Thursday against Johnston City.

"He was on from the get-go," Gericke said. "Three days rest, I think it almost helped him. It had a calming effect and let his ball work more rather than trying to throw it too hard, because I don't think he had the tank completely full."

Teutopolis coach Justin Fleener said his hitters had trouble dealing with Pinkston.

"He really kept us off-balance and I think we had trouble distinguishing his fastball and slider that he was throwing," Fleener said. "It really had a lot of cut on it, late break on it. I think that what gave some of our guys fits there at the end."

Freeburg took an early lead in the second when Derrick Rozycke singled and scored on a hit-and-run single by Yung. The center fielder bobbled the ball just a bit and Rozycke flew around the bases.

The Wooden Shoes tied it in the third when Jordan Thoele scored on a throwing error by catcher Keegan Baxmeyer. But Pinkston allowed only one hit the rest of the way and T-Town never got another runner past second.

Pinkston was more than happy to finish his high school career with a trip to state.

"It feels great," he said. "This is my fourth year on varsity and the first time I've been there, so I'm ready."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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