BELLEVILLE — Konnor Morrissey capped off a rally the Marquette Catholic Explorers will remember for some time.
Morrissey’s RBI single to left capped a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh in the Explorers’ 6-5 victory over the Gillespie Miners on Monday in the championship game of the Belleville Althoff Class 2A Regional at Whitey Herzog Field.
Morrissey, who had been 0-for-3 for the day, served up an opposite field hit to left with the bases loaded and nobody out off Gillespie reliever Rylee Bernot to win the game after Zach Weinman’s two-run single down the right field line tied the game.
The Miners intentionally walked No. 3 hitter Liam Maher to set up the force play at home if needed, but Morrissey delivered to give the Explorers (22-10) their first regional championship since 2012.
“I was ready to go,” Morrissey said. “It wasn’t a great at-bat, but that 2-2 pitch, I was hoping he gave me a fastball, he gave me a fastball and it found green.
“A lot of teams do that because Liam is such a powerful hitter. I know if Liam had the chance, he would have done it, so when they walked him, I was pretty excited to go out there and get the chance to do it. … I wasn’t thinking about it. I would have (walked Maher), too. Liam’s an incredible hitter.”
The Explorers, who advance to the Vandalia Sectional to face Teutopolis, a 12-0 winner over the Vandalia Vandals to claim the Greenville Regional, on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
But it almost never came to fruition after the Miners (17-9) took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning and cruising along with starting pitcher Tate Wargo, who had to leave after allowing two singles to lead off the bottom of the seventh because of the 105-pitch limit rule, which was implemented this season.
Gillespie coach Jeremy Smith had to turn to Bernot, and the junior allowed three hits and an intentional walk without getting an out.
“Bernot didn’t do anything wrong, but the new pitching rules, it’s a situation like that … it shouldn’t be applied,” Smith said. “Tate’s throwing a hell of a ballgame for us, shutting them down and then I’ve got to go get him because he threw 105 pitches. It’s not fair to the kids. … This is the first time it really came back to bite us,”
With Gillespie leading 5-3, Adam Harrison, who doubled in two runs in the second to tie the game 2-2, singled on an 0-2 pitch and moved up to second on an error. Brady McAfee, who entered the game in the fifth as a pinch-hitter, singled for the second time in as many at-bats and stole second to put the tying run on second with nobody out.
That’s when Smith had to lift Wargo, who finished with 108 pitches, in favor of Bernot.
That’s when Weinman delivered on another 0-2 pitch, just sticking his bat put and stabbing at one that landed down the right field line to score two and tying the game 5-5.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play and at least get one run home,” Weinman said. “I was fortunate enough for it to be a hit and get two. It was a good start to the inning for us. … I just kind of wanted to take it the other way.”
With Weinman at second after advancing on an error, Ethan Kopsie’s bunt attempt fell in for an infield single to put the winning run at third. Naturally, Maher was intentionally walked to set up Morrissey’s game-winning hit.
Down to their final three outs, the Explorers rallied in the dugout.
Nick Hemann got the win in relief for the Explorers, going two scoreless innings in favor of starter Luke Simmons. Hemann struck out Gillespie’s Nos. 3-4 hitters (Nick Jarman and Bernot) in the sixth with runners on second and third and one out.
Story by Louie Korac
Alton Telegraph- Tuesday, May 23, 2017
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 6, GILLESPIE 5
Gillespie 202 010 0 — 5 12 4
Marquette 020 010 3 — 6 10 2
Gillespie (17-9) — Wargo 2-4, Carter 2-4 2B, Jarman 2-4, Bernot 2-4 2B RBI, Boeck 2-2 RBI-2, Segarra 1-3 2B, Wyatt 1-3. LP-Bernot IP-0 H-3 R-1 ER-1 BB-1 K-0.
Marquette (22-10) — Weinman 2-4 RBI-2, Kopsie 1-4 RBI, Maher 1-3 2B, Morrissey 1-4 RBI, Messinger 1-3 2B, Harrison 2-3 2B RBI-2, McAfee 2-2. WP-Hemann IP-2 H-2 R-0 ER-0 BB-1 K-3.