By Steve Robinson | May 31, 2018 - 10:28 pm
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Two heavy rain downpours May 30 may have forced a change of location for the Illinois High School Association Class 4A baseball Sectional between Normal Community West and Bradley Bourbonnais, but the change didn’t seem to faze the Wildcats, who won the contest, blanking the Boilermakers in five innings, 12-0. As a result of the victory, the Wildcats would face O’Fallon on June 2 at for Jack Horenberger Field on Illinois Wesleyan University’s campus. That game’s first pitch is slated for 11a.m.

With the field moved and the game time pushed back from 6p.m. to 7:15p.m., West winning pitcher McCade Brown sat down the Boilermakers’ firs three batters to open the top of the first inning. That was followed by Wildcats leadoff man Austin Collinson being walked and being followed by a Brandon Roth single to right field. Ben Smith followed with a single which scored both runners, giving West a quick 2-0 lead.

West (24-14) would add four more runs in their half of the second inning when Roth smacked triple scoring Sean Shook, Jeremy Fischer, and Collinson, all three who had been walked by losing pitcher Alec Weedon. Roth would also cross the plate on a fielding error, which in completing the play, delighted the crowd of roughly 500 fans, mostly West supporters. That gave West a 6-0 lead. West senior Jake Marti and sophomore Will Kafer singled and doubled, respectfully, and were driven home by a single by catcher Cody Hardt for two more runs in the innings for an 8-0 advantage.

Fischer doubling and Smith hitting a single brought in two more runs in the home half of the third inning, upping West’s lead, 10-0. The Wildcats’ last two runs came in the fourth inning, the result of a Hardt double which scored Kafer who singled, and Hardt scoring on a Collinson single.

Brown threw 54 pitches in his three innings of work, six short of what would keep him from being able to pitch in the Sectional Championship on Saturday per IHSA rules. “He knew he could throw less pitches if he could use our defense a little bit,” explained West head coach Chris Hawkins of his pitcher who increased his record on the season to 8-1.

Bradley Bourbonnais’ loss went to Weedon, and the Boilermakers season ends with an 18-14 mark. Boilermakers head coach Alec Robinson said the two-run first inning by Normal West ”was no big deal, but the big deal was the six runs in the second inning. Give them credit, Brown did a good job mixing it up. We couldn’t really pull anything together to get runs across.”

The Corn Crib Was A Last Option To Host Contest: The contest, originally slated for Horenberger Field, was moved because the field there was too waterlogged for the scheduled 6p.m. start. Quick thinking on the part of Normal West Athletic Director Stan Lewis prompted him to call Normal CornBelters President and General Manager Steve Malliet to see if it would be possible to play there. The CornBelters were out of town in the midst of a 9-day road trip, allowing the game to go forward with a 7:15p.m.start, thus preventing IHSA from declaring the game postponed.

Hawkins said maneuvering to find a location to play didn’t really rattle his players, who hadn’t played since May 26. He added, “Our guys were just hungry to play today. If someone had offered them a blacktop to play on, they’d have played on it if that had to happen.”

Malliet said The Corn Crib was “the last option” in terms of a location for the contest because even Duffy Bass Field on Illinois State University’s campus would not have been an option because of its grass outfield. “Thankfully, we had turf and we were able to help out,” he said.

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