Baseball: Herscher bounces back to win Class 2A third-place trophy
Updated: June 2, 2012 7:11PM
PEORIA — After coming painfully close to playing for the Class 2A championship, Herscher bounced back to defeat Trenton Wesclin 8-2 on Saturday to claim the third-place trophy at O’Brien Field.
The convincing victory marked the second state trophy the Tigers have won under coach Eric Regez, who led the school to a title in 1999.
“I’m extremely proud of our season,” Regez said. “I’m proud of the way the players bounced back after yesterday’s tough game. … I’m excited to finish up the season with a victory.”
Unlike Friday’s tough 2-1 loss to Alleman in the semifinals, the baseball gods were in Herscher’s corner against Wesclin. After a 40-minute rain delay, Herscher’s Jordan Ruckman led off the game with a lazy fly to right field. The Wesclin fielder lost the ball at the last second, resulting in a double. Junior catcher Evan Regez then reached on an error by the shortstop, setting the foundation for a four-run first inning.
Third baseman Justin Ruckman and first baseman Matt Webber each delivered RBI singles in the first inning, and left fielder Kyle Burton drove in a run with a groundout.
Herscher mounted a 6-0 advantage in the top of sixth inning when the Tigers scored twice with two outs and no one on. Right fielder Austin Mendell started the rally with a single, and scored on shortstop Spike Engelman’s triple. Engelman then scored on a wild pitch.
Herscher’s bottom two hitters, Mendell and Engelman, produced in big ways for the Tigers. Mendell finished 4-for-4 with a run, while the slick-fielding Engelman went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Justin Ruckman contributed a pair of RBI singles, and Landon Hoffman had two hits, including a double.
“I saw the ball really well,” said Mendell, who was making a spot start. “It was just one of those days where everything seemed to go right.”
Herscher ace left-hander Jordan Ruckman didn’t have his best stuff, but managed to keep Wesclin scoreless and hitless through the first three innings. The Northern Illinois recruit struck out four and walked five in three innings before giving way to junior left-hander Jimmy Brandt.