Champaign Central had an eight-run sixth inning uprising as the Maroons stunned Mascoutah 13-6 on Monday at the Class 3A Sauget Baseball Super-Sectional.
In search of its first trip to the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament, Mascoutah (27-11) scored six runs in the third inning and led 6-2 heading to the top of the sixth before the Maroons seized control of the game.
Central junior Zak Hartleb, who singled off Mascoutah’s Jordan Kraljev in the third inning, ended the night for the Indians ace when he hit a three-run line drive home run over the left-field wall at GCS Ballpark, cutting the Maroons deficit to 6-5.
It’s very disappointing. We’ve had a great year.
Don Eddy, Mascoutah coach
Mascoutah coach Don Eddy then brought in relief pitcher Logan Bibb, who walked the first two hitters before Patrick Beckemeyer laced a double to the left-field wall. Beckmeyer’s hit gave Central a 7-6 lead.
Central senior Cade Sestak then increased the lead to 9-6 two batters later with a two-run home run.
“We’ve done this all year. We keep chipping away, chipping away until one of us hits one (home run) or we’re able to to string together five or six hits together,” Sestak said. “We don’t quit and tonight, in this, the biggest game of the season, we weren’t about to start.”
Central (29-9-1) added three runs in the seventh to increase the lead to 13-6, and when Sestak, the third pitcher used by coach John Staab, retired the Indians in order in the bottom of the seventh, the Maroons were headed to the Class 3A State Tournament.
Champaign Central will take on Chicago Heights Marian at 10 a.m. on Friday in a Class 3A State Tournament semifinal at Silver Cross Stadium in Joliet.
But for the first five innings on Monday, it appeared it would be Mascoutah making the 280-mile trek north for the weekend.
Playing before several hundred fans, the Indians scored six runs in the third inning. With Kraljev on the mound, that lead seemed safe until the Maroons uprising.
“It’s the never-say-die attitude of these kids. We’ve been able to come many times this year because these kids just keep battling,” Staab said. “Mascoutah’s pitcher (Kraljev) was great, but as the game went on, we had better at-bats against him. We made him throw a lot of pitches.
“I think two of the home runs we hit were on 3-2 or 2-2 pitches. We had a lot of quality at-bats later in the game. And Cade (Sestak) closed the door on them in the last four innings.”
Mascoutah stranded three runners in the first two innings — two in scoring position — before finally getting to Central starter Dom Erlinger in the third inning.
Jaydon Stewart led off with a walk and went to second on a single by Michael Chaffin. Noah Blakely then drove in the first run of the night, and Jacob Davis followed with an RBI single seconds later as the Indians lead grew to 2-0.
Four batters later and with the Indians leading 4-0, Austin Wombacher hit a two-run home run and the Mascoutah lead was at 6-0.
But it didn’t last.
“It’s very disappointing. We’ve had a great year,” Eddy said. “I don’t know what we had, but I think we had the bases loaded once and had runners in scoring position a couple of other times. We were up 6-0, but we could have had more.
“We knew they (Central) could hit.”
Mascoutah stranded nine runners on base — including seven in scoring position.