Sat June 1, 2013
By Sean Duncan
PEORIA, IL – Gibault Catholic captured the Waterloo school’s first state championship after it defeated Putnam County, 6-2, in the Class 1A state title game Saturday at Dozer Park.
Junior left-hander Zach Neff needed only 67 pitches in his five-hit complete-game victory. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound Neff struck out eight, walked none and allowed two earned runs to improve his record to 7-2.
Gibault (25-11) broke open a 2-2 tie in the sixth, when the Hawks pushed across four runs behind three hits, one error, a walk and a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Leadoff centerfielder Mitch Meyer delivered the big blow with a two-run single, while sophomore left fielder Alec Skaer also added a run-scoring single.
Junior catcher Ryley Wallin smacked a two-run homer in the fourth inning to left field to give Gibault a 2-1 lead. Wallin finished 1-for-1 with a walk and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.
Junior shortstop Wes Degener had a stellar tournament at the plate, going 5-for-6 with three runs, three stolen bases and an RBI. In the championship game, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound left-handed hitter went 2-for-3 with a double to lead off the big sixth inning, and scored a run.
Putnam County (24-11) was led by its athletic senior shortstop Xavier Warren, who had a RBI triple in the top of the sixth to tie the game 2-2. Warren, a Kaskaskia JC recruit, also played a stellar defensive shortstop. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when senior outfielder Jack Egan led off with a triple and scored on Austin Pletsch’s sacrifice fly.
In the five-inning third-place game, Shawnee defeated Salt Fork, 2-1 behind Adam Pennington’s four-hit, four-strikeout performance.