Prep baseball | State Notes

Sager takes advantage of opportunity in biggest game

2014-06-07T19:30:00Z 2014-06-07T23:45:05Z Sager takes advantage of opportunity in biggest gameMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
June 07, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

PEORIA | Until Saturday, Illinois Lutheran's John Sager had just 14 at-bats and four hits.

When Illinois Lutheran coach Mark Kjenstad put him in as a pinch-hitter in the fifth, Sager made good with a single to right-center field. He later scored on a Sam Geraci triple as the Chargers beat Webber 12-2 in six innings to win the Class 1A state title at Dozer Park.

"I was just happy Coach gave me a chance and I was really excited," Sager said. "To get a hit in the state championship game is something special."

A record day: Illinois Lutheran's two triples set a record for triples in a Class 1A title game.

Alton Marquette had two in a third-place game against Lena-Winslow in 2012.

The Chargers' Collin Borns and Sam Geraci each tripled. They are just the third and fourth players to do so in a Class 1A state championship. Five others have done it in a state tournament game, which includes third-place games.

Borns tripled in a four-run third and is the first to do so in a 1A title game since Effingham St. Anthony's Michael Kabbs in 2012.

Geraci tripled in a three-run fifth.

The Chargers also tied a Class 1A title game mark for most doubles with three. Sam Geraci, Mack Newson and Evan Henschel each doubled.

Jacksonville Routt had three doubles in an 8-1 win over Marissa for the 2008 title.

Big day: Illinois Lutheran principal Joe Archer said this was a big day for the school, which opened its door in the 1987-88 school year.

"We are a school of 109 students, so for us to accomplish this, it is just a great thing," Archer said. "We never even won a sectional in any sport until this year, so this is just a great thing for our community."

He also credits coach Mark Kjenstad.

"He also cares about these kids spiritually as well," Archer said. "Mark loves baseball and is intense, but he also cares about the kids as individuals and I think that shows."

Kjenstad started the program 17 years ago and the then-Cavaliers went 0-9.

"It was humbling because I had won a summer league title in Yankton (S.D.), but I wasn't discouraged," Kjenstad said. "I knew we could get a program going and we have had some good teams over the years."

Golf, anyone?: The Illinois Lutheran golf outing which was scheduled for Saturday, has been rescheduled for June 21, said principal Joe Archer.

"I don't think we would have had anyone there," Archer said. "All our fans were here."

Beat the weatherman: The Class 2A championship between Byron and Pleasant Plains was played before the third-place game because inclement weather was forecasted.

Class 1A third-place game: Argenta-Oreana, which Illinois Lutheran beat 1-0 on Friday, came back with a 7-1 win over New Athens for third place.

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