“Just pure elation,” Gibault Catholic High School baseball coach Andy Skaer said minutes after his team hoisted his program’s first state championship trophy.
In a fairly slow game early on, Putnam County (24-11) put the first run on the board in the second inning of Saturday’s Class 1A title game at Peoria’s Dozer Park.
The turning point for Gibault would come in the bottom of the fourth inning, when junior catcher Ryley Wallin blasted one out of the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league single-A park. The two-run homer put the Hawks up with just one stroke, 2-1.
Putnam County led off an electric sixth inning, putting up one run and tying the game. Gibault would answer with an inning that ended up fulfilling their state title dreams.Gibault lefty Zach Neff took the mound in the state championship Saturday, allowing two runs, five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.
Junior Wes Degener led off the bottom half of the inning with a double, followed by a Matt Schreder single. A bizarre play resulted in Degener getting into a rundown, but the Hawks junior avoided a Putnam County fielder’s tag at third. With the bases loaded, Putnam’s Cody Ballerini hit a Gibault batter, handing the Hawks a 3-2 lead.
Alec Skaer followed with an RBI single to right, causing the Panthers to make a pitching change. But it wouldn’t matter, as the Hawks went on to score two more off a Mitch Meyer single.
Ace lefty Zach Neff and the Hawks ended the game just a half inning later, 6-2, taking home the state trophy. Gibault finishes its storybook season at 25-11.
Be sure to check out this week’s edition of the Republic-Times for more on the game.
Click here, for photos from the state title contest.
To read about Gibault’s state semifinal game, click here.