Prep Baseball & Softball

Valmeyer baseball making history with first-ever state berth

Andrew Whipple and Cole Juelfs are congratulated on the Valmeyer bench after scoring in a Pirates’ sectional win last week. Both pitched in the team’s super-sectional victory over Abingdon-Avon Tuesday, which sends Valmeyer to its first state final four.
Andrew Whipple and Cole Juelfs are congratulated on the Valmeyer bench after scoring in a Pirates’ sectional win last week. Both pitched in the team’s super-sectional victory over Abingdon-Avon Tuesday, which sends Valmeyer to its first state final four. znizami@bnd.com

It’s been a dream season for Valmeyer senior Easton Wallace, but there’s more dreaming left to be done for the Pirates.

Wallace drove home a pair of runs and pitched three clutch shutout innings of relief in a 16-9 win over Abingdon-Avon at the Spingfield super-sectional.

Three days since winning the school’s first sectional championship, Wallace and the Pirates have earned a spot in the IHSA Class 1A Final Four.

“For a senior that’s been such a huge part of our program over the years to be able to celebrate on the mound is just a dream come true for him,” said Valmeyer coach Greg Reinhardt.

The Class 1A and 2A state tournaments begin Friday at Dozier Park in Peoria. Valmeyer (27-9) will play in the second semifinal game against Somonauk at noon. Goreville and Peoria Heights will play in the other semifinal at 10 a.m.

Win or lose, the Pirates will play again Saturday, either for third place at 9 a.m. or for the championship at noon.

“I think we match up really well against the teams that will be up there,” Reinhardt said. “I really think we have a chance.”

Abingdon-Avon held a 6-4 lead in the third inning, but Valmeyer responded in the bottom half with seven runs.

The Pirates held the lead, despite what was shaping up as a high-scoring game.

Wallace entered the game with two on and none out in the fifth inning. He got out of the jam and went out to shut down Abingdon-Avon on a hit and a walk, while striking out one.

“I thought it was going to end up 32-28 or something like that. It looked like one of those games,” Reinhardt said. “But Easton came in and basically closed the door. He made some big pitches to get us out of the fifth.”

Starter Cole Juelfs allowed two earned runs in the first inning and Andrew Whipple followed by allowing two runs over the next three.

“They had a really potent offense, and I thought they’d keep coming back,” Reinhardt said of Abingdon-Avon. “Andrew did a really nice job to steady the ship.”

Easton was credited with the win, and his third-inning RBI double was his 27th, third-most in a single season in IHSA history.

Valmeyer had 13 hits in the game. Michael Chism, Tyler Kempfer, Riley McCarthy and Wallace each had two RBIs in the game. Erik Wallace also drove home a pair with a pinch-hit single in the third. Phillip Reinhardt was 3 for 3 and scored three runs.

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