The Nashville Hornets defeated Waterloo Gibault 3-2 in the IHSA Class 2A Red Bud Regional Championship game and advanced to the Benton Sectional. Back Row: Rylin Brehm, Assistant Coach Matt Meinhert, Kelton Harre, Dale Anderson, Cameron Parker, Carson Parker, Bryce Bultman, Jacob Woodrome, Todd Jahnke, Nick Paszkiewicz, Assistant Coach Steve Kozuszek, and Head Coach Chad Malawy. Front Row: Trevor Meier, Cade Krueger, Jake Heck, Nadrew Kash, Hadyen Heggemeier, Brogan Kemp, Austin Anderson, Cole Pedtke, Cody Bauza, Tyler Jahnke, and Ryan Brink.
By Brent Huelsmann
For the third straight season, the Nashville Hornets baseball team is Regional Champions. The Hornets staved off a late rally from Waterloo Gibault to win Regionals and advance to the Benton Sectional, which begins play on May 24. The hornets defeated Sparta in the Regional Semi-Finals.. In the Sectional Semi-Finals, the Hornets face off against Carmi, who ended Nashville’s season last year.
In the Regional Semi-Finals, the Nashville Hornets defeated Sparta 12-0 in five innings, which was the third time this season nashville defeated the Bulldogs. Nashville scored early and often to get the victory.
Twelve runs was more than enough for senior hurler Ryan Brink, who was almost perfect on the mound. In five innings of work, Brink did not allow a hit, did not walk a batter, and struck out six Bulldogs. The only blemish on Brink’s pitching performance was two hit batters, one in the first, and one in the fifth.
Brink got the scoring started as he crushed a two-out, two-strike home run in the first inning to get the Hornets on the board. After the game, Hornets coach Chad Malawy talked about how the Home Run affected the team. “Offensively I thought we banged some balls hard. It’s just a matter of getting the pressure out of the way. It was big, Ryan Brink hitting a two strike dinger there to get us on the board. It just helps everybody take a deep breath and play a little looser.”
THe Hornets would add two more runs in the second inning, as Carson Parker drove in Cameron Parker with a RBI groundout, before Jake Heck hit a solo home run to give Nashville a 3-0 advantage.
Nashville would continue to pour it on in the third, as they added three more runs to their total. Brink doubled home Kelton Harre, a courtesy runner, before Trevor Meier singled home Brink. The last run of the inning would cross the plate when Cameron Parker laced a double to bring home Brogan Kemp.
The Hornets were not done offensively. With the Hornets up 6-0 in the fourth, Cody Bauza crushed his first home run of the season, a three-run shot, to give the Hornets a 9-0 lead. Cameron Parker would add a sacrifice fly, and Carson Parker would double home two more runs to give Nashville a 12-0 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, Brink pitched around a leadoff hit batter, by getting a double play, and a strikeout to end the game.
After the game, Malawy talked about the win. “It’s all about survive and advance. It started on the mound again, Ryan Brink was really good with the exception of hitting a couple guys, but that is part of the game, and he pitched around that damage.”
At the plate, the Hornets were led by Bauza who finished 2-3 with three RBIs, a home run, and a double. Brink also had two hits in the contest, one of which was a home run. Brink also scored three runs. Heck finished the game 2-3 with a home run for Nashville, while Trevor Meier drove in a run on one hit in the game. Both Cameron and Carson Parker each had a hit and two RBIs for Nashville in the win, while Kemp and Harre each had two runs scored. Bryce Bultman, and Hayden Heggemeier each scored a run in the win.
After weather delayed the REgional Championship game to Monday afternoon, the Hornets sent senior Austin Anderson to the mound to try to keep the Hornets season alive. The Hornets took control early in the game, but had to withstand a late rally by Waterloo Gibault and took the game 3-2.
Nashville got on the board first in the third inning, as Heggemeier singled for the Hornets first hit of the game. Bauza the very next batter, crushed a long home run beyond the right field fence to give the hornets a 2-0 advantage. Nashville would add a run in the fifth as Heggemeier would score on an error to give the Hornets a 3-0 advantage.
Anderson was cruising through five innings of work in the game, but in the sixth got into some trouble. Anderson walked three batters in the inning, and hit two batters in the frame. One of the walks and one of the hit batters came with the bases loaded leading to two runs for Gibault. Anderson was able to limit the damage, as he got the flyout with the bases loaded to end the threat.
In the seventh, the Hornets brought in Brink to pitch, Brink struck out the first two batters before getting a groundout to end the game, and Gibault’s season.
Anderson was strong on the mound, as he went six innings, gave up one hit, two earned runs, walked three and struck out ten batters. Afterwards, Anderson talked about his performance. “I had everything going for me pretty well until about the sixth, and then I don’t know everything just kind of felt a little weird, but I got out of it and it worked out in the end.”
Anderson got the win, and Brink got the save on the mound.
Coach Chad Malawy talked about the game, “it was a great game. It starts on the mound. Austin Anderson was fantastic. I think he got a little tired there at the end. I don’t know what to blame it on, his pitch count got up near 100, and we had to pull him. But he threw a whale of a game. And to bring in your next pitcher, for us to be able to throw our 1A/1B right there at them to shut the door, that’s huge. We’re just happy to get the win, and move into the Sectional.”
Malawy went on to talk about the seniors on the team. “I’m proud of these guys. These guys have been in the program. We had a team talk and us coaches were talking about how proud we are of these seniors. We have 11 seniors and we started seven today. They’ve 115 wins in their four years here for our program and that’s tremendous. Let’s just hope that’s not the last one of the season.”
When asked if he was going to pull Anderson in the sixth, Malawy said, “we just had to make a little drama. Austin is a senior and he kept telling us he’s good and I’m not gonna take the ball from him unless I absolutely have to, and he did a great job getting out of it. They squared up the ball, but fortunately for us he got a little under it and hit it at us and that’s the game of baseball, any given day.
Offensively, Bauza provided the big blast early with a two run home run, his second in two games this postseason. Heggemeier finished with two hits, and two runs scored, as he scored the game winning run for the Hornets. Cameron Parker finished with two hits, one of which was a double.
Nashville’s record is 28-6 on the season.