The Gibault Catholic High School baseball team will play for its first state title since 2013 after downing Steeleville, 12-4, in the Class 1A state semifinal Friday afternoon at Dozer Park in Peoria.
A two-run homer by Steeleville’s Jordan Wilson gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead in the second. Gibault coaches argued the ball hit the fence just left of the left field foul pole, but the call stood.
Gibault head coach Andy Skaer said senior Ian Metcalf gathered the players together after that half inning, without the coaches, for an inspirational speech. The team has rallied together since the death of Metcalf’s mother, Kelley, due to cancer by wearing the initials KM in pink on their caps and pink wristbands at every game.
“He just told us that… if we play our game and come back and we just keep battling and finding our pitch at the plate, working the pitcher into deep counts, we would end up on top,” Gibault second baseman Austin Sweeney said. “And that’s exactly what we did.”
Whatever their teammate said seemed to energize the Hawks, and the team responded with a six-run third inning to go up 6-2. Sweeney’s two-RBI single started the scoring and Mark Branz tripled him home. Tim Reinholz continued his torrid postseason, driving in Branz. Reinholz was 2-for-2 on the day with three runs scored.
“The call itself, I lost it in the sky,” Skaer told reporters after the game. “I don’t know where it hit, if it was fair or foul… That was a big call that went against us in a big game. We try to have a mindset that we can only worry about the things we can control.”
Gibault starter Nick Weilbacher settled down from there, pitching four solid innings for the victory.
The Hawks tacked on two runs on bases loaded walks in the fifth and another one in the sixth, which was followed by Cam Kincheloe’s bases loaded double to put the game away.
“We took the destiny in our hands and delivered when we needed to,” Skaer said.
Gibault (27-8) will play Ottawa Marquette for the state title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
For the full postgame press conference, click here.