*****Herscher Baseball State Tourney Games*****
Herscher uses 'wiggle' to advance
By Steve Soucie
WATSEKA — Patience has been a key to
success for the Herscher High School baseball
team under coach Eric Regez. The
Tigers often bide their time and pounce
when an opportunity presents itself.
But Herscher wasn’t following that
patented formula Saturday in the final of
the Class 2A Watseka Sectional.
The team pressed its way through the
early innings of its title matchup with
Prairie Central before relaxing a bit and
tacking on some late runs in a 3-1 victory.
“It wasn’t easy, but then again, they
aren’t supposed to be,” Regez said. “We
were just able to push those runs across,
and we were able to wiggle out of some
The postseason win lifted the Tigers into
the Super-Sectional round and gave Regez
his fifth sectional title and third Elite Eight
But early in the contest, it was Prairie
Central that showed the poise of a battledtested
stalwart. The Hawks scratched out a
run in the first inning when Jordan Pilgrim
was hit by a pitch, sacrificed to second base
and scored on a dropped-third strike throwing
Herscher (28-11) wasn’t displaying much
patience at the plate, either, allowing Prairie
Central starter Zack
Lawrence to breeze through
the first two innings. The
Tigers tied the game in the
third with doubles by Alex
Petkunas and Tyler Evans,
but Lawrence bounced back
in the fourth by striking out
pitching and defense did just
enough to survive. Prairie
Central put its leadoff hitter
on base in four of the first
five innings, but in each
inning, starting pitcher Jordan
Ruckman found a way
to keep the Hawks from
“It was tough,” Ruckman
said. “But I had confidence
that we’d get the bats going
and get some runs.”
The Tigers appeared poised to break the
deadlock in the fifth when Brock Pfeiffer
started a rally with two outs and moved to
second on a Evans single. But he was cut
down at the plate trying to score on an
Herscher finally broke through in the
sixth. Justin Ruckman doubled and scored
on a single by Jeff Bruer. Two batters later,
Luke Stetson provided an insurance run
with an RBI double.
(2007)Winnicki powers Tigers to Sweet 16
By Steve Soucie
BEECHER -- Until a few weeks ago, it was something of a lost season for Herscher's Rob Winnicki.
But now that he's apparently got things turned around, the senior has decided to go out with a flourish.
And he's apparently saving his best for the postseason as he blasted two home runs and drove in five runs to guide the Herscher baseball team to a 9-3 victory over Morgan Park Academy in the championship game of the Beecher Class A Sectional on Saturday.
The win pushes the Tigers (28-8-1) into the Lisle (Illinois Benedictine University) Super-Sectional, where they will face Melrose Park (Walther Lutheran) on Monday at 11 a.m. Walther Lutheran defeated Timothy Christian 1-0 in the Lisle Sectional final.
Winnicki had an All-Area season in his junior year as he was 9-2 on the mound and blasted five home runs with his bat.
But things went terribly awry to start this season and he didn't pick up a pitching victory until May 4. He was also dropped down in Herscher's batting order when he started to slump there as well.
However, he did start Saturday with a certain amount of weight on his shoulders. Winnicki was the starter against Wilmington on Thursday and he had his first rocky start in almost a month, digging the Tigers a hole that they needed a late-inning miracle to overcome and advance.
"I felt like I almost single-handedly cost us the game on Thursday," Winnicki admitted. "I had to come back and have a good showing today."
Buoyed by the need to atone for his pitching problems, Winnicki also had the fact that he's always hit well at Beecher's park. He hit a grand slam in last year's sectional final at Beecher, so when Morgan Park's Tim Riggenbach made a mistake with an 0-2 curveball in the second inning, Winnicki promptly deposited it over the fence for a 2-0 Herscher lead.
"He'd thrown me two fastballs on the first two pitches, so I was kind of looking for the curve," Winnicki said. "I was actually surprised he didn't throw me one earlier in the at-bat."
After Herscher had opened up the gap in the fifth with two more runs, Winnicki effectively slammed the door on any hopes of a Morgan Park (13-4) comeback by slugging another homer to almost exactly the same spot as the first.
"He's got a little pop," Herscher coach Eric Regez said of Winnicki. "They got the ball up to him and he really elevated it. They made a couple of mistakes to him and he certainly took advantage."
While Winnicki was providing the brunt of the offense, Logan Outsen was stonewalling a Morgan Park offense that had scored 55 runs in its previous four postseason games.
Outsen faced the minimum through the first four innings, allowing two hits, but nullifying those with a caught stealing and a double-play line drive.
He ran into a little trouble in the sixth, but by then, he had been given a healthy cushion with the five-run, fifth-inning outburst. The three runs posted by Morgan Park in that frame only made things reasonably close at the time.
"Logan did a great job," Regez said. "They are good hitters and he was able to work around some of their hitters and we made some plays behind him."
Mark Walther put together five outs of solid relief work and worked his way out of a bases-loaded trouble spot in the sixth that could have made things much more interesting had MPA's Jordan Hill come through with a clutch hit.
Instead, Outsen collected his area-best 11th victory of the season and still gives Herscher enough semi-fresh arms to make a run at the Super-Sectional title, or, at the very least, put up a better showing than last year's 7-0 loss to Addison Driscoll.
"We've achieved to where we want to be right now," Regez said. "We are one step away from the state tournament; we'll see if we can accomplish that step, unlike last year."
Herscher put things totally out of reach when Zach Stetson smashed a two-run home run to deep right field to account for the final margin.
SCORE: Herscher 9, Morgan Park Academy 3
SCORERS: Herscher -- Rob Winnicki (2 for 3, 2 HR, 5 RBI), Matt Denault (2 for 3), Zach Stetson (HR, 2 RBI).
STATS: Herscher starter Logan Outsen didn't allow a Morgan Park Academy base runner past second until the sixth inning.
SKINNY: The power provided by Winnicki's bat and the steady pitching of Outsen was far too much for the Warriors to overcome as the Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season.
(2006) Herscher meets goals in Sectional Championship
By Steve Soucie email@example.com 815-937-3392 BEECHER -- On a wipe board in the Herscher dugout, four items were written down for the Tigers to try to accomplish in Saturday's Class A Beecher Sectional championship matchup with the host Bobcats. The first read "Kill Beecher." The fourth simply stated "Win." No one died, at least literally, but the Tigers (27-9) dominated every facet of the game in a 21-2 rout of Beecher to easily meet goal No. 4 on Herscher's checklist. Herscher now advances to Monday's Lisle (Benedictine College) Super-Sectional where it will face Addison Driscoll at 11 a.m. For the record, the Tigers also met goals No. 2 and No. 3 too, and as for goal No. 1, no one had to die, but that doesn't mean things were painless for Beecher. Hamstrung by the fact that ace pitcher Jayson Koehn tossed 150 pitches in Friday's semifinal win against Wilmington, Beecher's pitching staff was remarkably thin heading into Saturday. "We knew they were going to be a little shorthanded coming in," Herscher coach Eric Regez said. "But we still had to come out and take advantage of that. But we certainly didn't expect it to be like this." No Beecher pitcher besides Koehn amassed more than two victories this season, and Koehn was the pitcher of choice in all of the Bobcats key games during the regular season. But without him available, things went downhill quickly. Beecher did manage to take a momentary 1-0 lead off Herscher in the top half of the first, but Herscher's first four batters reached in its half the first and all of them scored to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Zach Stetson homered in the second to give Herscher a 5-1 lead and then things got really ugly in the third. An error, a hit batsman and a walk chased Clayton and then reliever Dan Kasper could do no better. The first nine batters of the inning all reached and scored and the Tigers would finish the inning off with 10 runs, capped off by a long three-run homer from Mitch Parks. Up 15-1, Herscher kept hitting in the fourth tacking on six more runs including a second homer from Parks. "We were between a rock and a hard place coming in," Beecher coach Kenn Krizan said. "The other two or three kids that we have pitching behind Koehn just don't have the kind of experience that they need." Somewhat lost in the shuffle was a sound pitching effort from Kelly Krippel. Krippel relieved Herscher starter Dustin Rennewanz after he faced just four batters in the first inning. After entering, Krippel allowed just two hits and no runs in three-plus innings of work. Note: Fans interested in attending Monday's game will need to go to the Benedictine University Athletic Complex which is located at 5700 College Road in Lisle. The most direct route is to take Interstate 55 north to the Route 53 exit. Take Route 53 north for six miles and turn left on Maple Avenue. One mile down on Maple Avenue will be College Road. The athletic complex will be on the right side of College Road. SCORE: Herscher 21, Beecher 2 SLUGGERS: Herscher: Mitch Parks (3 for 4, two homers, five RBI), Zach Stetson (3 for 4, homer, two RBI); Beecher: Jayson Koehn (2 for 3), Matt Wozniak (2 for 3). STATS: Herscher: Had nine consecutive runners reach base in the third inning before an out was record, all nine scored; Beecher: Pitching staff combined to allow 14 hits, seven walks and five hit batsmen. SKINNY: At one point, Beecher led the game 1-0. From there, literally nothing went right for the Bobcats again as Herscher knocked four different Bobcats' pitchers around the park
Wacky play moves Tigers to Championship Game
Steve Soucie, Daily Journal
May 30, 2003 (Sectional Semi)
Herscher 3, Bishop McNamara 2
HERSCHER -- Herscher's Scott Styck was standing on second base, unsure of what to do, but as he watched things unfold in front of him, he knew something great was about to happen. Styck had just come through with a critical two-out hit that gave the Herscher baseball team new life in Thursday afternoon's Class A Sectional semifinal between Herscher and Bishop McNamara. It was what happened next that floored everyone watching. Styck's base hit had tied the game 2-2, and with the impact of that alone, the crowd buzzed with nervous tension. Few noticed as courtesy runner Stephen Styck crept down the third-base line and broke for home. Stephen Styck and Regez had caught the Irish napping and effectively stole home, giving the Tigers a shocking 3-2 victory in a fashion that many needed explained to them even after it occurred. "I really don't know what to say," Regez said. "In that situation, I decided to go until they stopped us. They didn't stop us." It was just a lapse in concentration for the Irish. After the throw went to third to try to cut down Stephen Styck, the ball went back to Irish starter Andy Marquie. Marquie turned away from the play and while he and catcher Tony Nutall gathered themselves following the game-tying hit, Stephen Styck made his mad dash for the plate where he scored without a throw. It was the capper to an inning that could be considered glorious to one side of the field and absolutely agonizing to the other. Herscher (28-10) entered the inning trailing 2-0 and with the bottom of the order coming up to the plate for final swings against Marquie, things did not look promising for the Tigers. But Ken Berger legged out an infield single and then managed to beat out a force attempt at second on a Braden Wepprecht roller. With two on and no outs, John McCullough rapped a ball at the third baseman which could have been a double play turn for the Irish. However, the ball wasn't fielded cleanly and Irish third baseman Cliff Schwab was fortunate to get the lead runner in a force play. With one out and two still on, Corey Hines quickly fell behind 0-2 before getting nicked by a inside Marquie offer, loading the bases. Marquie recorded his seventh strikeout of the game by mowing down Adam Witvoet, but then Scott Styck settled in for the biggest at-bat of his baseball career. Scott Styck had failed to plate any runners in the same situation in the fifth inning, but that didn't seem to deter him as he approached the plate. "I didn't really have a game plan when I went up there," Styck said. "On that pitch, I was thinking fastball and I got it." When he got the pitch, he rifled it to centerfield where Irish centerfielder Dan Krones rushed to get it in the hopes of cutting down the potential tying run that raced into score. In the exchange, Krones tried to scoop the ball up barehanded and couldn't come up with it cleanly. Courtesy runner Drew Hove scored without a play, and it might have been a much different series of events had Krones fielded the ball cleanly. "Who knows?" Irish coach Ryan Kemp said. "It's almost textbook to what happened here in 2000. It's a mirror image." The 2000 regional final ended in similar horrific fashion for the Irish as an error allowed the Tigers to escape with another two-out, last inning victory. "They are too good on this field," Kemp said. "I didn't have a good feeling all along in that inning. It's hard to believe it happened again. For 62/3 innings we played some pretty good baseball today. It was the one-third that was the problem." The Irish, who finished 19-18, did play some excellent ball for the first six innings, controlling the game and limiting the Tigers' offensive attack. McNamara manufactured a run in the third after Josh Polega led off the inning with a single, was sacrificed over to second on a bunt from Reid Savoie and would later score on an RBI single from Tom Regnier. The Irish tacked on another run in the fourth when Matt Van Mill crushed a solo home run to lead off the fourth. Marquie (5-8), meanwhile, was cruising. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning when McCullough knocked a double down the line. He also extended his postseason scoreless streak to 13 innings before the fateful seventh. "Andy pitched a great game for them," Regez added. "But we somehow found a way to get through there. This has to be the most bizarre ending to a game I've seen," Nick Swartz (9-3) collected the win in quiet fashion. Swartz wasn't overpowering, collecting just one strikeout on the day, but he did induce a number of groundballs and the Herscher defense was sure-handed behind him.
Copyright© 2003 The Daily Journal Publishing Co., L.L.C., All Rights Reserved
No quit in these Tigers (5/2000)
Herscher 2, Bishop McNamara 1
By Steve Soucie, Assistant sports editor HERSCHER - The adage, "It's not over until it's over," has been linked to the game of baseball for years. But Herscher certainly pushed the phrase to its limits Saturday afternoon. The Tigers waited until the absolute last second to capture a 2-1 victory over Bishop McNamara in the semifinal round of the Herscher Class A Regional. The Tigers (29-8) move into Monday's title game against Prairie Central (32-2-1). The Hawks won the day's opening game 10-2 over Sheldon. Herscher backed itself up against the wall against McNamara trailing almost the whole way. When the seventh inning rolled around, the Fightin' Irish quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning to put the pressure on. With Herscher's 7-8-9 hitters expected next, the prospects looked even worse. When No. 7 hitter Matt Duval lashed a single on a 2-1 count, the Tigers stayed alive. Josh Osenga then replaced Duval as a pinch runner. Next up was Kevin Schaumburg, who also buried himself with a a two-strike count, before connecting for a single. The ball ricocheted past fast approaching Irish center fielder Brian Zirkle and Osenga came all the way around from first to tie the score. Schaumburg moved into second on the throw home. No. 9 hitter Steve Wilkins then stepped in expecting to see nothing but curveballs from Mac hurler Brett Meyer (7-5). Meyer surprised Wilkins with a fastball on his second pitch, which Wilkins deposited into center for the game-winning hit. "I figured he'd throw me all curveballs because I can't hit curveballs," Wilkins said. "When he threw one in there, I just made some contact and it dropped in." The hit sent the Herscher players into hysterics and sent the Irish home with yet another crushing defeat at the hands of the Tigers. Mac, which finished 22-9, was knocked out of last year's postseason by the Tigers as well. "This one hurts," McNamara coach Ryan Kemp said. "But they did it the right way. Nobody was hitting all day long and they string together three solid hits from the bottom of their order. They earned it." Oddly, the Tigers were able to do it against Meyer, a pitcher who has simply handcuffed a potent Herscher offense in two appearances. Meyer had held Herscher scoreless for 13 consecutive innings this season before the fateful seventh. He tossed a three-hit shutout on May 2 as Mac prevailed 3-0.. "What about that? We couldn't do anything against him for 13 innings," Herscher coach Eric Regez said. "That was just an intense game. It was just an unbelievable game. You have to play until the final out, and we did just that." The game's frantic ending overshadowed a stellar performance from Herscher pitcher Todd Walther, who improved to 7-4. Walther wasn't overpowering, recording just four strikeouts. What he did do was rely on his team's steady defense and just kept the Irish from stringing together any big innings. "We were just trying to slow them down," Regez said. "Todd picked an excellent game to throw his best game of the season." The Irish scratched out their only run in the third when Zirkle plated Trevor Luedtke on a groundout. Luedtke doubled earlier in the inning, which accounted for the only extra base hit of the game for either team. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright © 2000 The Daily Journal Publishing Co., L.C.C., All Rights Reserved
"Tigers Roar To State Crown"
Tip Teutopolis in title tilt
The Herscher baseball team put it all together over the weekend and collected the IHSA Class A State baseball tournament with a 8-3 victory Saturday over Teutopolis in the championship game. Herscher, which finished the season 37-4, is the first team from Kankakee County to claim a state baseball title in the 66 year history of the tournament. The Tigers fell behind early in the contest as the Wooden Shoes plated two runs in the first inning. Herscher sliced the gap to 2-1 on a run scoring double from Ryan Hove in its half of the frame. Teutopolis added a single run in the third to take a 3-1 lead. However, Herscher closed to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning as Matt Kapchinske scored on a Teutopolis error. Herscher seized control for good in the fourth inning. Travis Brown led off with a double. An error allowed Jason Adams to reach and a passed ball allowed the runners to move into scoring position. Broown scored on a Matt Duval groundout. Later, a Pat West singlewould bring home Adams (pictured) to give Herscher a 4-3 lead. The Tigers added two more runs in the fifth with the big blow being Brown's second double of the game. For good measure Herscher added a pair of runs in the sixth thanks to some excellent baserunning that included a delayed steal of home plate by West. Overall Herscher collected nine hits. Steve Kerschke worked the entire championship game for the win. Kerschke had a busy week. He was the winning pitcher in both of Herscher's sectional contests and also won the quarterfinal game on Friday. In one week's time Kerschke won four games and tossed 27 innings of spectacular work. He closed a steller season with a 17-2 record. In a 10-3 semifinal win over Massac County earlier Saturday, Herscher took care of things early. The Tigers plated four rins in the first inning off of a load of singles, later Herscher sealed the deal with six runs in the sixth. Todd Walther tossed a complete game, allowing Herscher to rest the weary Kerschke for the title game. Tim Marks paced the offense with four hits. All of the weekend heroics may not even occured if not for sophomore Pat West (pictured) in Friday's quarterfinals. In a matchup with perennial power Addison Driscoll, Herscher scuffled all game long but managed to gain control on a dramatic two-run homer in the sixth inning to put the Tigers in front for good 4-3. West, the no. 9 hitter, had homered just once prior to the state tournament. Kerschke picked up the complete game victory.
Tigers Slam Way to State
(Bisaillon unloads the crucial blast) Sectional Championship 5/30/95
Herscher 10, Prairie Central 4
by Mr. Randy Bruce
Reprinted with permission from 5/31/95 Kankakee Daily Journal Bloomington - One Minute, the Herscher baseball team was going home. The next, it was going to state. Just that quickly, Tigers right fielder Craig Bisaillon drove a grand slam over the left field wall and a stake into the state title hopes of Prairie Central. A 4-1 sixth-inning deficit became a 5-4 Herscher lead, and the Tigers piled it on from there Tuesday to record a 10-4 win in a Class A Sectional championship game at O'Neill Park. "That's what makes baseball such a great game," Herscher coach Eric Regez said. "Craig's home run turned the game around just like that." Herscher (26-4) will face Byron (24-6) in a 4PM state quarterfinal match up Friday at Lamphier Park in Springfield. "I just knew that I hit the ball hard," said Bisaillon of his two-out blast off reliever Eli Rigsby. "Then I listened for the crowd's reaction and knew it was gone." After scoring a run in the first, Herscher's usually mighty offense was held hitless by starter Dave Buchanan for the next four innings. But three straight singles in the sixth by Billy Cox, Travis Carson and Josh Wenzelman loaded the bases and chased Buchanan in favor of the left-handed Rigsby. The new Hawks pitcher got Nick Brouillet to hit a liner to center, which nearly doubled pinch runner Joe Bertrand off second base. And then Bisaillon, the eighth place hitter and hardly the most imposing slugger in Herscher's devastating line-up turned the tide by clubbing his first homer of the season just over the left field fence. "I think that woke everybody up." said winning pitcher Jason Hill (10-1). "After that, I knew I had to put the hammer down." Hill did just that, hammering through the final two innings while his teammates plated him five insurance tallies in the seventh. Carson and Brouillet each clubbed two-run doubles in the rally before Bisaillon finished it with an RBI single to complete a five-RBI day. "It did not hit me that we were going to state until Carson hit the double to put us up by three," Regez said. "I never even thought about it until then." Herscher's last and only other trip to Springfield was in 1983, when the Tigers reached the semifinals. "Before the season I thought that maybe we could get to state," said Hill who struck out six while walking only one. "We've got a real good team." Tuesday's first inning was not the thing state-title runs are made of, though. In the top half, Herscher had four hits but managed only one run when Rodger Fehland was gunned down at the plate trying to score on a Carson single. Prairie Central then came back to score all four of its runs in its half of the first. Three were unearned thanks to a throwing error by Hill who slipped trying to field Jeff curl's bunt and fired the ball well over first basemen Fehland for a three-base gaffe. The Hawks got runners on in every inning but the seventh after that, but could plate nothing else off the determined Hill. "We had our chances," Prairie Central coach Tim McGuire said. "They are a whale of a hitting team. They didn't win 26 games with mirrors." Specifically, Herscher has won 26 games with bats, with Bisaillon and Carson (three hits) swinging the biggest sticks Tuesday.