Prep Baseball & Softball

Pirates are one win away from Valmeyer’s first state championship

Easton Wallace is greeted by Valmeyer teammates at home plate during a regional championship game last week. The Pirates advanced to the IHSA Class 1A championship game Friday with a win over Somonauk.
Easton Wallace is greeted by Valmeyer teammates at home plate during a regional championship game last week. The Pirates advanced to the IHSA Class 1A championship game Friday with a win over Somonauk. znizami@bnd.com

The Valmeyer Pirates advanced to the championship game of the Class 1A state baseball tournament with a 7-4 win over Somonauk on Friday in Peoria.

Valmeyer (28-9) will face Peoria Heights (23-5) for the first state title in the school’s history at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Dozer Field.

Freshman Phillip Reinhardt pitched a complete game, striking out eight, walking one and allowing just four Somonauk hits.

“I felt like we were more nervous heading into our last (sectional championship) game,” said Valmeyer coach Greg Reinhardt. “Phillip came out and put up zeroes for three innings and that really took a lot of the pressure off.”

Valmeyer helped Somonauk by committing four errors in the game. None of the Bobcats runs were earned. Somonauk returned the favor, though, with five errors of its own.

Phillip was on. He got a lot of 2-2 and 3-2 strikeouts on breaking pitches. He had a lot of confidence in all three of his pitches, which in that spot, is something else for a freshman.

Greg Reindhardt, Valmeyer head baseball coach

“We booted the ball a lot, but they booted it more,” Reinhardt said. “But Phillip was on. He got a lot of 2-2 and 3-2 strikeouts on breaking pitches. He had a lot of confidence in all three of his pitches, which in that spot, is something else for a freshman. I’m really proud of him.”

The Pirates trailed 2-1 headed into the bottom of the fourth inning. But Reinhardt picked up an RBI single to even the score and Tyler Kempfer doubled home Jake Krekel and Easton Wallace to Valmeyer on top, 4-2.

In the fifth, Drew Maus doubled to lead off, Andrew Whipple walked and a Logan Seidler bunt put both runs into scoring position. Cole Juelfs and Krekel each got hits.

“I think early on we were trying to hit the ball too far and got a lot of popups,” Reinhardt said. “We made adjustments and started hitting the ball hard on the ground. We squared the ball up pretty good.”

It’s been a historic run for the Pirates, who earned their first sectional championship last week. The closest any Valmeyer team has ever come to a state title was in 2013 when the volleyball team placed fourth.

No other team has qualified for the state tournament, though three teams reached the baseball final 16 when Illinois still had just one competitive class.

Somonauk (24-2) finished second in Illinois 1A last year. Peoria Heights defeated defending state champion Goreville 4-3 in the first state semifinal game Friday.

At a glance

Here’s what you need to know about the state championship game and teams:

VALMEYER PIRATES (28-9)

  • Colors: Purple/gold
  • Conference: Cahokia
  • Coach: Greg Reinhardt
  • Last season: lost to Okawville, 8-0, in sectional semifinals
  • Top Hitters: Easton Wallace (.459, 27 doubles, 4 HR, 46 RBIs); Jake Krekel (.446, 32 RBIs); Tyler Kempfer (.323, 2 HR, 27 RBIs)
  • Top Pitchers: Phillip Reinhardt (8-1, 0.94 ERA, 51 K); Andrew Whipple (6-1, 2.47 ERA); Cole Juelfs (6-1, 2.48 ERA)

PEORIA HEIGHTS PATRIOTS (23-5)

  • Colors: Red/White/Blue
  • Conference: PrairieLand
  • Coach: Matt King
  • Last season: Lost to Ottawa Marquette, 6-4, in sectional semifinal
  • Top Hitters: Rylee Miller (.302, 13 2B, 28 RBIs); Blake Begner (.420, 10 2B, 30 RBIs); Ty Webb (.291, 8 2B, 20 RBIs)
  • Top Pitchers: Blake Benger (5-0, 0.00 ERA, 91 K, 9 BB, 45 1/3 IP); Tyler Gregory (8-0, 1.05 ERA)
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