Prep Baseball & Softball

Class 2A baseball playoff hopefuls about to rack up some miles

Althoff senior Jake Frazier is one of the Crusaders’ top pitchers along with Southwestern Illinois recruit Rorey Keen.
Althoff senior Jake Frazier is one of the Crusaders’ top pitchers along with Southwestern Illinois recruit Rorey Keen. znizami@bnd.com

Following some metro-east teams in the Class 2A prep baseball playoffs might be a lot easier with your cell phone or a laptop computer than traveling to the games themselves.

The Illinois High School Association has local teams spread far and wide throughout the lower portion of the state, with Mater Dei, Carlyle and Central among those hit the hardest.

Despite being the top seed in its sub-sectional, the Mater Dei Knights were sent 100 miles east of Breese to the Newton Regional. Carlyle, the second-highest seed in the regional, will be right there with them.

“The geography is certainly not going to be in our favor,” Mater Dei coach Travis Gebke said. “To my knowledge, and in my years of coaching baseball, this will be the furthest we’ve ever traveled. It’s honestly just mind-boggling figuring out how a regional game could be that far away.”

He’s right. It would be far closer for Mater Dei to get to the Sauget Super-Sectional than to make the trek across the state to Newton.

It wasn’t much better for the Central Cougars, who were placed in the Effingham St. Anthony Regional. Dupo will travel to the Gillespie Regional despite being a lot closer to the Althoff Regional at Whitey Herzog Field in Belleville.

“Three teams in (Clinton) County having to travel an hour and a half,” Central coach Kevin Crask said. “I think the state could do a lot better. The furthest we’ve ever had to travel for a regional was Alton Marquette five or six years ago.”

One thing’s for certain, no one will complain about a trip to to Dozer Park in Peoria, the site of the state baseball tournament.

Here’s a look at the Class 2A regionals:

Althoff Regional

Top-seeded Althoff and No. 5 seed Wesclin both boast solid pitching staffs and lineups that aren’t full of home-run hitters and sluggers.

“Everybody that’s pitched for us has been the bright spot,” Althoff coach Randy Wells said. “Obviously we’ve struggled offensively, but we’ve found a way to scratch out some wins. We’ve played some good teams that are bigger than us.

“Now we’re in the playoffs against teams that we’re matched a ltitle more evenly against, so hopefully we can get on a nice run.”

▪  Scouting Althoff: Stephen Toenjes (.333), Trey Mosley (.308), Jake Frazier (.304, eight RBIs; 2-2, 2.91 ERA); Rorey Keen (.283; 3-3, 2.52 ERA); Jack Ysursa (.255, 1 HR, seven RBIs).

▪  Scouting Wesclin: Jared Timmermann (.386, six doubles, 18 RBIs; 4-2, 1.56 ERA), Blake Bernhardt (.353, 14 RBIs), Jarad Steenbergen (.354, 24 runs; 3-4, 3.37 ERA), Seth Nast (.307,s even doubles, three triples, 12 RBIs).

Newton Regional

Mater Dei’s combination of solid pitching and opportunistic hitting has carried the Knights all season. Gebke also singled out his team’s ability to focus its competitive nature on taking care of opponents.

“I think it starts with the fact that we are experienced in the playoffs,” Gebke said. “This group of seniors is so competitive and determined, they just flat-out don’t want it to end. They’re enjoying their time and enjoying a nice season, so they want to keep it going.”

Two of the Knights’ most potent weapons are Lindenwood-St. Charles pitching recruit Blake Beckmann, Southwestern Illinois outfielder recruit Brady Rakers and and infielder-catcher Wil Rakers. Wil Rakers has been slowed by a recent ankle injury, but Gebke said his recovery has been quick.

Mater Dei will face the Lawrenceville-Newton winner in the semifinals on Wednesday, while Carlyle will face either Flora or Robinson in the second semifinal Wednesday.

▪  Scouting Mater Dei: Wil Rakers (.484, two homers, 23 RBIs), Bryce Beckmann (.422, eight doubles, four triples, 16 RBIs), Brady Rakers (.405, six doubles, one home run, 19 RBIs), Colin Schuetz (.342, 19 RBIs), Blake Beckmann (5-1, 1.09 ERA), Nolan Seelhoefer (4-1, 1.19 ERA), Austin Winter (5-0, 1.29 ERA).

▪  Scouting Carlyle: Ryan Rakers (.384, 11 doubles, four homers, 26 RBIs; 3-4, 3.44 ERA), Dru Johnson (.359, 10 doubles, one homer, 18 RBIs), Grant Carman (.343, eight doubles, one homer, 21 RBIs), Ricky Huge (.333, 18 RBIs; 2-2, 2.20 ERA), Adam Alexander (.277, eight doubles, seven RBIs, 39 stolen bases), Maverick Taylor (5-2, 2.98 ERA), Landon Michael (5-2, 3.43 ERA).

Effingham St. Anthony Regional

Central will try to get past a tough semifinal game with Greenville in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal game Wednesday, then could be on a collision course with traditional state power Teutopolis in the regional title game at Evergreen Park.

“I really like our depth in pitching,” Crask said. “What’s kept us in the ballgames has been our pitching.”

The Cougars’ ace has been sophomore Dylan Wilson, 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA.

“He’s got the location and the control of his pitches,” Crask said. “He’s also been able to throw all three of his pitches for strikes and that’s what’s giving hin a big advantage right now.”

Junior shortstop Kolby Schulte (.429, 27 RBIs, 14 stolen bases) set a school record with 16 doubles. Pitcher Mitchel Rule signed with Greenville College and outfielder Brent Timmons signed with Kaskaskia.

▪  Scouting Central: Kolby Schulte (.429, 16 doubles, two trpiles, 27 RBIs, 14 stolen bases), Bryce Harre (.391), Dalton Wise (.377, six doubles, three triples, 11 RBIs), Brent Timmons (.343, nine doubles, 23 RBIs), Carter Truong (.358, four doubles, two trpiles, 13 RBIs), Dylan Wilson (7-0, 1.08 ERA), Jack Strieker (.357, nine RBIs; 5-1, 1.08 ERA), Mitchel Rule (0-4, three saves).

Gillespie Regional

A resurgent season by the Dupo Tigers could give them a shot at the Gillespie Regional championship. A 9-5 win over Althoff on Friday could give the Tigers even more momentum. Their toughest test should come from Piasa Southwestern.

▪  Scouting Dupo: Drake Harvell (.509, 12 doubles, one homer, 27 RBIs; 6-3, 3.38 ERA), Austin Francis (.444, five doubles, two triples, two homers, 23 RBIs), Collin Roth (.364, 10 doubles, one homer, 20 RBIs), Brandon Roth (.343), Taylor Stanek (.293, three doubles, two homers, 17 RBIs; 4-0, 4.30 ERA).

Nashville Regional

Nashville just may have one of the deepest Class 2A pitching staffs in the state and the Hornets’ hurlers have compiled a 1.23 earned-run average. The only other area team here is the Gibault Hawks, who will face Du Quoin in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Nashville coach Chad Malawy has four pitchers who have worked more than 40 innings — none with an ERA above 1.46 — so finding enough pitching to make a deep playoff run won’t be an issue.

Not with pitchers like Austin Anderson (2-2, 1.46 ERA), Ryan Brink (5-1, 1.10 ERA), Brady Bultman (8-1, 1.03 ERA) and Brogan Kemp (7-0, 1.22 ERA).

▪  Scouting Nashville: Cody Bauza (.419, 15 doubles, four homers, 24 RBIs), Jaris Dalman (.390, one homer, 23 RBIs), Ryan Brink (.299, two homers, 23 RBIs; 5-1, 1.10 ERA); Brady Bultman (.304, one homer, 20 RBIs; 8-1, 1.03 ERA), Hayden Heggemeier (.323, 29 runs, seven doubles), Brogan Kemp (7-0, 1.22 ERA, 70 strikeouts in 46 innings).

▪  Scouting Gibault: Trevor Davis (.395, 10 doubles, three triples, two homers, 24 RBIs; 3-3, 2.47 ERA), Tyler Brinkmann (.374, nine doubles, five triples, one homer, 20 RBIs), Alex Stern (.330, nine RBIs), Drew Dugan (.268, five doubles, one homer, 16 RBIs), Collin Kessler (3-2, 3.50 ERA).

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

At a glance

Class 2A Althoff Regional

  • Top seeds: (1) Althoff, (4) Staunton, (5) Wesclin
  • Favorites: Althoff, Wesclin
  • Upset pick: Staunton
  • Analysis: Althoff has enough pitching to get through, but has struggled offensively much of the season. Never count out Wesclin in the playoffs, the Warriors build for this time of the season.

Class 2A Effingham St. Anthony Regional

  • Top seeds: (2) Teutopolis, (3) Central, (5) Greenville
  • Favorites: Central, Teutopolis
  • Upset pick: Greenville
  • Analysis: Central definitely has the pitching depth and should have enough hitting to win another regional, but it won’t be easy. Teutopolis has a proud history of baseball playoff success with two state titles and seven top-three finishes at state. Central can’t look past Greenville, either.

Class 2A Newton Regional

  • Top seeds: (1) Mater Dei, (4) Carlyle, (6) Flora
  • Favorite: Mater Dei
  • Upset pick: Carlyle
  • Analysis: Why the state would send Clinton County neighbors Mater Dei and Carlyle almost to Indiana to play in a regional is anyone’s guess. Mater Dei started strong and has gotten solid pitching and opportunistic hitting all season, but Carlyle has more than enough weapons to emerge as regional champs too. Should be as dogfight.

Class 2A Nashville Regional

  • Top seeds: (1) Nashville, (4) Gibault, (6) Du Quoin
  • Favorite: Nashville
  • Upset pick: Gibault
  • Analysis: This regional should be Nashville’s to lose. The Hornets are overloaded with pitching and are playing at home. Should be a solid combination.
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