No. 25 Moline's big sixth ousts No. 1 Normal West in regional final

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Director

NORMAL – In arguably the best regional final matchup of the day, No. 1 Normal West took on No. 25 Moline to decide the winner of the Normal Community Regional. The Wildcats have been on a terror as of late, winners of 24 straight and a 30-3 record, coach Chris Hawkins and the Wildcats have rarely tasted defeat this season.

That is, until Saturday. Moline rallied for seven runs in the sixth inning to upend top-ranked Normal West, 8-3, and claim the regional championship.

The highly-anticipated matchup of Normal West’s Illinois-bound Matt James (10-1) and Moline’s hard-throwing Appalachian State commit Matt Brill (5-2) was everything as advertised for five innings.

Both Brill and James traded strikeouts with five apiece through the first three innings, but it was James who would get to Brill first, helping his own cause with an RBI single in the third after a crucial two out error by Moline.

After a scoreless fourth frame, Normal West added to its 1-0 lead after Brill looked to be nearing the end of his day. Four walks and a single in the fifth led to two runs scored by the Wildcats and a 3-0 lead headed into the sixth.

Now with a three-run cushion, it seemed more than enough for James.

Nine-hole hitter Cal Moyer led off the sixth for Moline with a clean single, just the third hit of the day, and the Maroons were off and rolling. Eight hits, two pitching changes, a hit batter and a sac fly later, and Moline would hang a seven spot in the sixth on the Wildcats to take the lead.

Left-handed hitting senior catcher Jake Viaene delivered a two-run single in the inning, and junior outfielder Braden Mosley had a run-scoring single and sophomore Brett Newberg added a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.

Moline senior left-hander Dallas DeVrieze shut the door on Normal West, retiring the last six batters of the game in order to preserve the victory and win the regional. Brill was impressive in the victory, showing a consistent 87-89 mph fastball, topping at 89. But it was his hard 77-79 mph curveball that showed to be a devastating pitch.

Moline will now take on Plainfield South on Wednesday at 6pm at Illinois Wesleyan in the Sectional Semifinal.

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