Saturday’s loss in the state championship game will probably sting for a little while, but the memories of an amazing two-year run for the Valmeyer High School baseball team will last forever.
The Pirates dropped a 5-1 contest to Aurora Christian in the IHSA Class 1A state title game played Saturday morning at Dozer Park in Peoria. The start time was moved up to 9 a.m. due to the threat of storms.
Sophomore pitcher Jake Kutzendorf was a storm personified for Aurora Christian, throwing a complete game and simply overpowering Pirate hitters. His fastball topped out at 90 miles per hour, and he consistently threw in the upper 80s much of the game.
“We saw a heckuva stud pitcher,” Valmeyer head coach Greg Reinhardt said afterward. “You have to tip your hat to him.”
Senior catcher Tyler Kempfer drove in Valmeyer’s only run with a single in the sixth inning. The Pirates were limited to just four hits on the day.
Valmeyer sophomore southpaw Philip Reinhardt pitched well, but Aurora Christian was up to the task.
“To have Philip get hit like that, they were just a good team,” Greg Reinhardt told the Republic-Times. “I asked the home plate umpire and he said (Philip) only really had one bad pitch that he hung. The rest of ’em, they put a good bat on it.”
The head coach took pride in that his team lost to the better team rather than giving away the game.
“Today we got beat. You don’t ever want to beat yourself, and we didn’t do that today,” he said.
Valmeyer (31-10) advanced to the state title game for the second year in a row by topping Goreville on Friday. For a recap of that game, click here.
Saturday’s loss marked the final game for eight seniors who were responsible for 98 total wins, three regional titles, two sectional and supersectional crowns, and back-to-back state runner-up finishes over four seasons: Jake Krekel, Cole Juelfs, Michael Chism, Tyler Kempfer, Andrew Whipple, Drew Maus, Evan Thien and Ryan Brinkman.
“We fought hard ’til the end,” Greg Reinhardt said. “To make it back to the state championship again… just an amazing run.”
For photos from the state tournament, click here.