By the time Ty Dill and Keegan Baxmeyer took their second at-bats Thursday, they had already sent the Freeburg Midgets well on their way to the Class 3A Triad Sectional championship game.
Dill and Baxmeyer drove in a combined six runs in the first two innings and Baxmeyer tacked on another RBI later as the Midgets crushed Mount Vernon 11-0 in five innings to win the sectional semifinal.
Baxmeyer’s first three at-bats included an RBI double, a two-run double and an RBI single as Freeburg (25-9) sprinted out to a 10-0 lead after three innings. Dill had an RBI single, an RBI double and a walk while leadoff man John Hilpert scored in each of the first three innings.
“We finally came through,” Dill said, as if the Lindenwood-Belleville recruit’s .429 average and 34 RBIs signified some sort of trouble. “When you have runners in scoring position, that’s your job as a (No.) 3 and 4 hitter to knock them in.”
The performance by Dill and Baxmeyer, both seniors, hardly surprised Freeburg coach Drew Gericke. Baxmeyer has 38 RBIs and is hitting .417.
“That’s why they’re there,” Gericke said. “They’ve been doing it for four years. That’s what we expect out of that spot and they delivered today.”
Play every game like it could be your last. If we lose then we’re done, but we don’t want it to happen so we keep playing the best we can.
Freeburg’s Ty Dill on the team’s mindset right now
Freeburg now faces another showdown with rival Waterloo (27-6) at 11 a.m. Saturday in the sectional championship game. Freeburg won the lone regular-season meeting 3-2 on April 4, taking advantage of three Bulldogs’ errors in the third inning.
Dill’s advice to his teammates during this playoff run?
“Play every game like it could be your last,” he said. “If we lose then we’re done, but we don’t want it to happen so we keep playing the best we can.”
Freeburg senior right-hander Joe Wolf (5-4) held Mount Vernon (24-11) to four hits in five innings, letting his defense do much of the work.
“Our defense really got all the credit today,” he said. “I just kept the ball low and tried to keep my location down and they did all the work for me. They made it real easy to get in and out of innings. Ty Dill got me out of a couple jams, Jordan Fritz did a great job behind the plate calling strikes for me.
“It felt good, we’ve just got to keep rolling.”
Freeburg and Waterloo have probably been looking forward to a potential playoff matchup since that earlier game.
“Yeah, there definitely is a rivalry,” Wolf said. “I’m sure both teams are really looking forward to the game. We’ve just got to stay focused and I’m excited to see what happens.”
Dill’s RBI single and an RBI double by Baxmeyer gave the Midgets a 2-0 lead in the first against Rams starter Blake Jones.
Freeburg broke the game wide open in the second, sending 10 men to the plate with Dill’s two-run single and a two-run double by Baxmeyer swinging a sledgehammer at the Rams’ fading playoff hopes. Jordan Fritz also had a run-scoring hits in the second.
I didn’t tell anybody but yesterday was probably the best practice we had all year. We were sharp, we were crisp, we did everything right, we had good BP (batting practice). I think that showed today.
Freeburg coach Drew Gericke
Gericke had a good feeling going into the game.
“As a coach ... that’s exactly what you want,” Gericke said of the early offensive avalanche. “It’s what you expect. This group here over the last three days really put in the work because they’re not satisfied with the regional. It was a nice step, but these guys are working their butts off.
“I didn’t tell anybody but yesterday was probably the best practice we had all year. We were sharp, we were crisp, we did everything right, we had good BP (batting practice). I think that showed today. Tomorrow it’s going to have to be the same practice because Waterloo’s going to be ready for us.”
Freeburg finished third at the 2014 Class 2A state tournament.
Mount Vernon pitchers issued six walks and the Rams’ defense contributed two errors.
“It’s going to sting for a while,” Mount Vernon coach Tim Holloway said. “It was a tough day, they were better than us. That’s not how we usually play the game. You have to give all the credit in the world to Freeburg. When we did get it in the (strike) zone they did damage and we didn’t get many opportunities.”