PEORIA | Illinois Lutheran and Argenta-Oreana combined for three hits in the second Class 1A baseball state semifinal on Friday afternoon at Dozer Park.
Illinois Lutheran had the biggest hit in a 1-0 victory.
Lutheran pinch-hitter Jacob Heyn drew a walk from A-O starter Gage Eller with one out in the fifth. Joey Kendrick, a freshman, re-entered to run and scored from first on Dylan Gould’s double to left field, the team's lone hit of the game.
The Chargers (26-2) will face Bluford Webber (23-7) in the title game scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today.
“With two good pitchers on the mound we anticipated a low-scoring game,” Illinois Lutheran coach Mark Kjenstad said. “No margin for error.
"Joey got a good read and we had to test it.”
Gould’s double, on a 3-1 pitch, was over the left-fielder’s head and hit the wall on one hop.
“(Eller) threw me three straight balls so I was looking for something to hit and I was able to get the big part of the bat on the ball,” said Gould, the Chargers catcher and lead-off batter.
Lutheran starter and winning pitcher Grant Farmer allowed two hits, three walks and struck out five in six innings.
He stranded Eller after a two-out single in the third. Keegan McHood singled to start the top of the fourth. After a fielder’s choice and popout, Gould threw out Logan Jackson on an attempted steal of second to end the fourth.
“(Gould) got the big hit for us today,” Kjenstad said. “He’s been a terrific catcher for us all year.”
A-O loaded the bases in the sixth on two walks and an error. Farmer got Cole Banks to fly out to center field to end the inning.
“I didn’t have my best curveball today and my change-up wasn’t tip-top,” Farmer said. “But with (Gould) behind the plate I still had the confidence to throw those pitches with two strikes.”
Sam Geraci warmed up in the bullpen while the Crusaders batted in the bottom of the sixth.
“I asked Sam after he got his arm loose how he felt and he said, ‘really good,’” Kjenstad said. “At that point we decided to go with him in the seventh.”
Geraci got the first two outs in the seventh on looking strikeouts. He slid to field Jeffry Park’s roller toward the mound and threw to first for the final out to secure Lutheran’s first title-game appearance.
“One game away from a state championship,” Kjenstad said. “It’s unbelievable and exciting.”
Eller lost on a complete-game one-hitter for Argenta-Oreana (23-6).
“If you paid to get in you got your money’s worth,” A-O coach Tom Saunches said. “They hit the ball harder one more time than we did today.”
In the first semifinal, Webber rallied for three runs in the seventh and scored once in the 10th in a 5-4 victory over New Athens.
Kjenstad said Geraci or Jared Buzan likely would get the pitching start today.