Rockets Take Third At State
By Brent Huelsmann
For the second straight year, the Okawville Rockets are bringing back a trophy from Peoria. This time third place. This season, Okawville returned a talented roster that included seniors Mason Drury, Brad Fuhrhop, Alec Wisneski, and Brendan Killion. Last season Okawville lost in the State Championship game to Cobden 9-3.
This season Okawville was the top seed in their own regional, and won the regional after defeating Lebanon 4-1, and Odin in the Regional Championship game. The Regional Championship win, allowed the Rockets to move on to the Carlinville Sectional, which was held at Blackburn College. Okawville pitching was dominant as they pitched back-to-back shutouts in the sectional, defeating Carrolton 3-0 on May 27, and defeating Valmeyer 8-0 on May 28 to win their second straight Sectional Championship. The Super-Sectional matchup saw the Rockets matched up against Abingdon (A.-Avon). Down in the late innings, the Rockets pulled off an amazing comeback defeating Abingdon 8-7 in eight innings. The Rockets erased an five run deficit early, and went into the bottom of the eighth inning trailing Abingdon by one. The Rockets rallied loading the bases, tieing the game when Killion was hit by a pitch. Drew Frederking drew a walk to force in the winning run and send the Rockets back to the State Tournament.
The Rockets first matchup Friday, was against the Goreville Blackcats. The two teams had already played earlier in the season, a game in which Goreville won 3-2. Shane Ganz started the game for Okawville, but struggled early with his control. Ganz walked two in the first, but was able to get two strikeouts to avoid any damage. But Goreville would break through in the secon as Ganz walked Goreville's Caleb Murley with one out, and hit the next batter, Blaine Dunning. After coming back to strike out the next batter, Ganz would hit Jared Vaughn. Braden Webb would single home two runs to give Goreville a 2-0 lead. Brodie Lenon would double Goreville's lead with another 2 RBI single through the left side. Ganz would hit his third batter of the inning, but would avoid more trouble getting out of the inning.
Okawville would get a run back in the bottom of the second as Ganz singled down the line to open up the inning. After Nolan Crane flied out to left, and Killion struck out, Frederking would come through with two outs, with a RBI double to give Okawville their first run of the game. Will Aubel struck out to end the threat. In the third, Payten Harre came into pitch and shut down the Goreville offense in the frame. In the bottom half of the inning, the Rockets would keep chipping away as Harre walked, and Fuhrhop doubled him home with another two-out RBI hit to cut the Goreville lead to two. In the fourth, Harre would pitch around a hit batter to hold Goreville scoreless.
Okawville would tie the game in the fourth as Crane doubled to left, and Killion followed that up with a single. Frederking drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. After the next two batters were retired, Okawville kept up their clutch two-out hitting, as Alec Wisneski singled home two runs to tie the game.
The score would stay tied at four until the bottom of the fifth, when Okawville scored their fifth unanswered run of the game. Ganz singled with two outs, stole second and came around to score on a single by Crane. The lead was short-lived for the Rockets, as Goreville broke through for four runs in the sixth. Goreville had four hits in the inning, including two triples. The Blackcats would also take advantage of two Okawville errors in the inning.
Okawville would get a run back in the sixth, but could not complete the comeback as Goreville would win 8-6. At the plate, Crane led the Rockets with three hits, and Wisneski led Okawville with 2 RBIs. Ganz finished 2-4 with two runs scored, while Frederking finished 1-1 with a RBI and two walks. Fuhrhop finihsed with a RBI double, and Aubel and Madrid wach had a hit. On the mound, Ganz pitched two innings, four earned runs, three walks, and hit three batters. Ganz struck out three and gave up just two hits. Harre pitched 3.1 innings in relief giving up three earned runs, one walk, and three hits. Frederking pitched two-thirds of an inning, and gave up no runs on two hits. Killion pitched the final inning, with one strikeout.
The loss to Goreville, put Okawville in the Class 1A third place game against Catlin (Salt Fork). The Rockets sent Killion to the mound. Killion pitched flawlessly as he threw a shutout, giving up just one hit, striking out an incredible 11 batters in the game. Okawville got on the board in the third as Josh Madrid and Wisnewski singled to lead off the inning. Fuhrhop would plate the first run, with a sacrifice fly, and Wisneski scored on a wild pitch, to give Okawville a 2-0 lead. Okawville would extend their lead in the fourth, after Crane singled to lead off the game, stole second, and camve around to score on a sacrifice fly by Aubel, extending the Rockets lead to 3-0. In the fifth Okawville would again extend their lead as Wisneski singled, followed by Harre reaching on an error. After Fuhrhop, and Ganz were retired, Crane singled, scoring Harre and Wisneski. Okawville would cruise from there to a 5-0 win, and the third place trophy.
Killion was the star on the mound, pitching all seven innings, and gave up just one hit, a double in the second, and struck out 11 batters. Crane finished the game 2-4 with 2 RBIs in the game to lead the Rockets. Wisnewski, and Ganz each finihsed with two hits as well in the win. Aubel finished 1-2 with a RBI, while Harre, and Madrid notched the other two hits for Okawville. The lone other RBI for Okawville came off the bat of Fuhrhop.