KEWANEE — The Alleman baseball team has had fun all season and its season continues after defeating Peru-St. Bede 5-3 in the Class 2A Wethersfield Regional championship game.
Alleman (24-13) moves on to face sectional host Byron, winner of the Oregon Regional. Pioneers coach Jerry Burkhead says the team goes into that game with confidence.
“We have a lot of great leadership, with three of our guys as four-year starters,” Burkhead said. “The whole team has one common goal, and it’s pretty exciting to have guys on the same page.”
Sophomore Zach Carpita was Monday's hero for the Pioneers, as he had a two-run double in the bottom of the first, scoring Nate Sheets and Chase VanDerGinst, and a single in the fifth to again score Sheets.
Carpita was glad the team got the offense going.
“It’s huge when you get on the board early,” Carpita said. “We gained a ton of momentum and allowed our pitchers to just go out there and work, while we made their pitchers pitch around us.”
VanDerGinst, a senior, had a huge effect on the game despite being walked in all three of his plate appearances. Two of the walks were intentional, as the Bruins were very aware of the grand slam he had hit against Kewanee in the regional semi. He scored two runs and had a steal Monday.
“We really value Chase as a base runner,” Burkhead said. “When he scored on Zach’s double, he nearly caught up to Nate when they were rounding third. He has the ability to make a difference to the game even without a bat in his hand.”
Jono Berry started for Alleman and pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits. He had five strikeouts.
Berry is just happy that the team is making a run and having fun doing so.
“No matter who we play, we’re looking to compete in every single game,” Berry said. “Earlier in the year, we struggled a little bit, but everyone here loves the game of baseball. This is a fun group of guys to be around, on and off the field.”
Carpita echoed his pitcher’s sentiment.
“It’s a huge aspect of the game,” Carpita said. “When you’re having fun, it’s just more enjoyable, and makes winning feel even better.”
The win was the Pioneers' third straight and sixth in their last 10 starts.