4A State Championship: Plainfield East Holds Off Lake Park


By Drew Locascio
Illinois Scouting Director

Plainfield East and Lake Park matched up on Saturday evening with the 4A Championship on the line at DuPage Medical Group Stadium in Joliet, IL. The Bengals of Plainfield East continued their remarkable run with a 6-5 win that had plenty of drama at the end.

Plainfield East (19-15) was in total control of the game until the top of the sixth inning when the Lancers of Lake Park (33-5) made their charge. Trailing 6-0 heading into the sixth, Lake Park put up a five-spot, scoring all their runs with two outs, eventually cutting the lead to one. Giacomo Fanizza led off the frame with a double and later came around to score on an error in the infield. After a Nick Wolf two-out single, Mason Baer (UIC commit) smoked a line-drive into the left-field gap that left the yard in a hurry for a two-run home run cutting the Plainfield East lead to 6-3 at the time.

Lake Park’s Danny Rollins and Chris Worcester (Eastern Illinois commit) followed with back-to-back singles bringing up senior clean-up man, Jackson Kent (Wisconsin-Milwaukee commit). Kent stepped up to the occasion, hammering a double down the right-field line to score two, cutting the lead to one and putting himself in scoring position. 

Plainfield East reliever, uncommitted junior RHP Christian Mitchelle, stepped up and struck out the next hitter to keep Plainfield East ahead 6-5 heading to the bottom of the sixth. After a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning, Mitchelle came back out to close the seventh. Working off a fastball that sat 86-90 mph, Mitchelle was able to retire the first two hitters of the frame. With two outs and nobody on, Junior second baseman Max Baer, worked an impressive at-bat and eventually drew a walk. Mitchelle went right back to work and induced a comebacker which he handled cleanly and cemented the Plainfield East 6-5 win and their, and head coach Adam O'Reel’s, first-ever baseball state title.

Plainfield East got a strong start from senior Illinois commit, RHP Gavin Schmitt. Schmitt battled throughout to earn the win, making big pitches in a number of key spots. Schmitt worked five scoreless innings until Lake Park got it going in the sixth. In the win, Schmitt went 5.2 innings pitched, scattering 10 hits, four runs, two walks and striking out five. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound, right-hander worked with a fastball that sat anywhere from 84-88 mph and showed a feel for a low-to-mid 70’s breaking ball that he was able to consistently land for strikes.

Brady Louck, who has been a stalwart on the mound for Plainfield East throughout their playoff run and much of the season, did his best work in the championship game with his bat. The left-handed hitting leadoff man got the Bengals going in the bottom of the first when he led off with a triple over the left-fielder's head. He later scored on an RBI single by Mitchelle. 

Louck also played a key role in the Plainfield East three-run second inning when he doubled into left-center gap, scoring Nathan Rudd who had singled earlier and Bryce Atkin who walked. 

Leaving the second inning, Plainfield East held a 4-0 lead which held until they tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Mitchelle got the Bengals going with a triple off the left-field wall and scored when the next hitter, Jake Eason, doubled down the right-field line. Eason’s pinch runner, Jacob Fuernstahl, scored on a single by Ryan Skiba (Joliet JC commit) to push the Plainfield East lead to 6-0, which proved to be enough.

Lake Park turned to LHP Tommy Klco out of the bullpen and he turned in a quality 74 pitch performance to keep the Lancers within striking distance. Klco, who works ultra-quick and with a purpose, ended up going 4.2 innings, scattering four hits, two runs while striking out four and walking two. 

Despite taking the loss, the Lancers out hit Plainfield East 12-to-9.

Plainfield East's road to the championship was anything but ordinary. The Bengals entered the playoffs with a record of 12-15 before rattling off the seven straight wins to take home the Class 4A Crown. 

NOTABLE PERFORMANCES 

+ Brady Louck (Plainfield East): 2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, R
+ Christian Mitchelle (Plainfield East): 2-for-3, 3B, 2 RBI, R; 1.1 IP, Save, 2 H, R, 2 K, BB
+ Jacob Eason (Plainfield East): 1-for-3, 2B, RBI
+ Nathan Rudd (Plainfield East): 2-for-3, 2B, R
+ Mason Baer (Lake Park): 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, R
+ Danny Rollins (Lake Park): 2-for-4, R
+ Chris Worcester (Lake Park): 3-for-4, R
+ Giacomo Fanizza (Lake Park): 2-for-4, 2 2B, R

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