Pirates, Hawks win regional titles

The Valmeyer High School baseball team poses with its plaque following Saturday’s 13-0 win over Metro-East Lutheran at the Class 1A Metro-East Lutheran Regional. (submitted photo)

Most expected Valmeyer to be playing past the regional baseball round, but perhaps most had discounted a young Gibault squad from making a postseason run.

Both are now playing in the Class 1A Greenville University Sectional and with wins on Wednesday, it would be a Monroe County showdown for the title this Saturday.

Valmeyer (27-9) is aiming to make a return trip to state following last year’s runner-up finish. The Pirates won 15-0 over Mulberry Grove to open regional play at Metro-East Lutheran last Wednesday. 

Jake Krekel went 3-for-3 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs. Tyler Kempfer also homered and Philip Reinhardt went 2-for-2 with three RBIs.

On Saturday, the Pirates erupted for 12 runs in the third inning to blow past Metro-East Lutheran in the title game, 13-0. Drew Maus went 2-for-2 with four RBIs and Jacob Rowold went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and three runs scored.

Valmeyer will face Carrollton in the Greenville University Sectional on Wednesday. The Pirates defeated Carrollton last year to win a sectional crown.

Reinhardt leads the offense with a .452 average to go along with 31 RBIs and 35 runs. The sophomore southpaw is also 4-2 on the mound with a 1.59 ERA.

Senior shortstop Cole Juelfs is hitting .380 with 49 runs and 13 stolen bases, and is 5-1 on the mound with a 2.04 ERA.

Krekel, also a senior, is hitting .380 with 41 runs and 15 stolen bases.

Seniors Andrew Whipple and Drew Maus have five wins each on the mound and are hitting .352 and .327, respectively.

Gibault (12-22) opened regional play on its home field with a 2-1 victory over perennial small school baseball power Okawville on Thursday. 

Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Mason McFarland walked and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single by Josh Papenberg. Austin Sweeney drove them both in with an opposite field triple to give the Hawks the lead.

Sweeney went 3-for-3 at the plate and came on for the save in the seventh in relief of starter Mark Branz, a 6-foot-1 junior righty who struck out 10 in six innings of two-hit baseball.

On Monday, the Hawks plated two runs in the first off the bat of Tim Reinholz, and the 6-foot-2 sophomore southpaw shut down New Athens on the mound for a 9-0 victory. 

Reinholz struck out 13 in five innings of three-hit baseball. Sweeney went 3-for-4 with two runs and Cam Kincheloe added a pair of doubles.

Branz is hitting .388 this season with 24 RBIs and 33 runs to lead Gibault’s offense. He is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA on the mound. Branz will get the start in the sectional semifinal against Nokomis.

Sweeney is hitting .323 with 23 runs, followed by Papenberg at .322 with 25 runs and Reinholz at .300 with four home runs, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

After allowing a first-inning run against Okawville, Gibault’s pitching threw 13 straight scoreless innings.

“We played pretty well on our home field,” Gibault head coach Andy Skaer said. “We felt pretty confident coming in. But being the so-called underdog in a championship game means there’s no pressure. Our guys played free and easy.”

In Class 3A, Columbia and Waterloo begin postseason play this week.

The senior-heavy Eagles (26-3) won their 24th straight game last Wednesday, 9-3 at Civic Memorial, to close out the regular season. 

Brennen van Breusegen went 2-for-3 with two triples and three RBIs. Jordan Holmes added two hits and Shane Wilhelm went 1-for-4 with three RBIs.

Columbia will play Jerseyville in the Highland Regional on Wednesday. With a win, the Eagles would battle Highland or CM for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Wilhelm, a junior, is hitting .460 with 30 RBIs and 36 runs to lead the offense and is 4-1 with a 3.54 ERA on the mound.

Holmes is hitting .446 with 28 RBIs and 30 runs. Dylan Hildebrand is hitting .398 with 33 RBIs.

Luke Watson leads the pitching staff at 5-1 with a 3.03 ERA.

Waterloo (21-11) lost 4-2 at Edwardsville to close out the regular season. The Bulldogs defeated Belleville East last Wednesday, 7-6, and Cahokia on Thursday, 15-0.

The Bulldogs begin play in the Mascoutah Regional on Thursday against Triad. With a win, Waterloo would battle either Mascoutah or Freeburg for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Senior catcher Quinten Albrecht is hitting .511 with seven home runs, 35 RBIs and 35 runs to pace the ‘Dogs on offense. Senior outfielder Danny Tharp is next at .423 with 33 runs. 

Other key offensive contributors are Trey Kueper (.417), Tommy Carr (.406) and Marcus Heusohn (.395).

Lucas Goodsell leads Waterloo’s pitching staff at 4-3 with a 1.74 ERA. Nathan Albrecht is 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA.

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