Prep baseball

Illinois Lutheran baseball team wins Class 1A state title

2014-06-07T19:45:00Z 2014-06-11T19:24:14Z Illinois Lutheran baseball team wins Class 1A state titleMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
June 07, 2014 7:45 pm  • 

PEORIA | In a postseason of close games, the final one for Illinois Lutheran was anything but.

Illinois Lutheran did win another game in its final at-bat, but this time it was via the 10-run slaughter rule.

The Chargers pounded out 12 hits and took advantage of four Webber errors in a 12-2, six-inning win for the Class 1A state championship Saturday at Dozer Field.

It was the 11th time this season Illinois Lutheran scored 10 or more runs in a game and 10th time it won via the slaughter rule.

The Chargers' Evan Henschel doubled in Mack Newson with one out in the bottom of the fifth to start the celebration.

It was a last-minute decision by coach Mark Kjenstad  that put Henschel in the batting order. He usually uses a designated hitter for Henschel, but the senior leftfielder didn't disappoint as he was 2-for-4 and drove in the Chargers first and last runs.

"I was glad for the opportunity and there was no way I was going to let my team down," Henschel said. "We all hit today and we really got out in front early."

The state title is the first for the school in any sport and Kjenstad, who is leaving for the Philippines today with wife Jessica to adopt their daughter, said it was special.

"All year this was our goal," Kjenstad said. "The kids set that as a goal and they accomplished their goal."

Senior Sam Geraci (5-1) got the win for the Chargers (27-2) as he went five innings and flirted with a perfect game through three innings. He paused for a moment and took a deep breath before talking about what the team did.

"Nothing feels greater than this," Geraci said. "We talked about this all year and we put in the work. This was a whole team effort. We wanted this to come true and it did."

Geraci was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. He had three hits, including a double and triple. He also had four RBIs.

"I was not surprised we won this big," Geraci said. "We were looking for a big day because we had a lot of close games. We wanted to hit well and we did today."

The Chargers scored three times in the third as Geraci had a two-run double. They added four more as Collin Borns' triple highlighted the inning. Illinois Lutheran would add a run in the fifth, three more in the sixth and one more in the seventh to end the game.

"I can't explain it," Newson said. "That was our goal and we came down here wanting to win it all and we did. There is no other way to describe it than 'awesome.'"

For more, please check back at nwil.com and get full details in Sunday's Times.

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