PEORIA — The LeRoy High School baseball team didn’t do their best in the Class 1A state tournament.
Still, the fact that the Panthers fought their way into the Final Four of 1A, along with the fourth-place trophy they carried east on Interstate 74, are tangible and intangible memories that will last. a lifetime.
A LeRoy team that won all three of its section and super-section games by four points combined ran out of magic at Dozer Park. A 12-0 loss to Ottawa Marquette on Saturday in the third-place game followed a 15-2 semifinal loss to Louisville North Clay on Friday.
“We’ll have great memories no matter what happened here,” LeRoy coach Wayne Meyer said. “The trophy showcase will have this fourth place trophy, and they won’t know the score in years. They’ll just know we had one hell of a baseball team. It stings at the time, but over time it dulls and you’re just proud of what you’ve done.
“Hopefully I’ll come back and think that we’ve come to this point and not think about what’s been going on here for the last two days,” Porter Conn said. “The trip is for sure what I will remember when I look at the trophy. It was a pleasure to be here, that’s for sure.
Here are eight more takeaways from LeRoy’s first baseball tournament experience.
The Panthers advanced to the state finals after being the second seed in Subdivision A of the Illinois Wesleyan Division.
“We didn’t expect to be here, and we had some amazing games for the chance to play in Peoria,” Meyer said. “You come here and you kind of want it all.”
The defense falls apart
The Panthers erred in each of the first three innings on Saturday and were charged with a total of seven errors in 10 innings of play over the weekend.
“I thought we were playing pretty nervous and timid. We didn’t line the ball up the way we needed,” Meyer said. “We played really loose. We made some unusual mistakes and didn’t throw enough shots. I don’t know if we allowed ourselves to relax, but that’s easier said than done.
“We played very well. We haven’t played like we know we can,” elder Calvin Crawford said. “It was great fun being here. Coming to this moment means so much to our group.
No no-hitter today
Meyer brought all of his bench players into the game on Saturday with several late substitutions.
“I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to say they had to play,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, it’s a senior salute with everything they’ve achieved.”
Two of those reserves — rookie Andrew Fleming and junior Cylas Marcum — singled in the fifth inning for the Panthers’ only hits.
“It’s baseball, isn’t it,” Meyer said. “You press and you struggle, and then a freshman and a junior come off the bench and get some great hits. It was good to have some hits on the board. These are great memories for these guys.
LeRoy had to face Marquette ace Taylor Waldron in the match for third place. Waldron hit his pitch limit in Monday’s super section and was not eligible to return to the mound until Saturday.
Waldron entered the state tournament with a 10-2 record, 0.98 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 50 innings. Waldron struck out eight and scored one against the Panthers.
“I tried to stay efficient throughout the game and let the fastball work,” Waldron said.
Waldron was “not too happy” that a no-hitter state tournament had slipped his mind. “I dropped one shot, then I dropped another shot,” he said.
just play the game
Marquette’s coach, Todd Hopkins, wasn’t too concerned about pre-game scouting reports before facing LeRoy.
“We just went to play,” Hopkins said. “I played with Wayne in college. We’ve been friends for a long time. We know each other.”
Falling flying bullets
The combination of cloudless skies and the vast expanses of the Dozer Park outfield contributed to several fly balls falling in the North Clay contest.
“The big difference is really the depth. It’s a deeper park than we’re used to,” Meyer said. “There is a lot more room to cover. Obviously they (North Clay) hit well, but the high sky and big outfield make it tough for sure. It’s really hard to get your depth perception sometimes.
Conn on the mound
Conn, LeRoy’s starter against North Clay, had recorded 80 strikeouts in 38 innings before entering the state tournament. The Cardinals have fanned only once in more than four innings on Friday.
“It was a day where you had to throw the first strike and you had to pass the breaking ball,” Meyer said. “With their batting averages across the board, you knew they could absolutely hit. It was going to be difficult to get those withdrawal rates that he sometimes had. »
Small town living
Players North Clay and LeRoy admitted it was an enjoyable but unique experience playing in the home of the Class A Midwest League Peoria Chiefs.
“It’s great to be here,” Panthers receiver Garrett Hudson said. “I’ve been here several times for Chiefs games. It’s fun to play here. It’s good to know that you’ve worked hard and finally made it here.
“We’re used to playing in the middle of a cornfield,” North Clay pitcher Donnie Zimmerman said, “and not surrounded by a bunch of buildings.”
Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt