The Alleman baseball team could have Aerosmith’s “Livin’ On the Edge” as its postseason theme song. In fact, with the Class 2A state tournament approaching this weekend, the Pioneers are still alive and playing with an edge.
Buried beneath a 4-0 deficit after an inning and a half, the Pioneers bounced back behind the stellar relief pitching of Collin Snyder to pull out a 7-5 win over Brimfield-Elmwood at Augustana College’s Swanson Stadium, earning a berth in the state semifinals on Friday at Peoria’s Dozer Park.
The last time the Pioneers reached state was in 2012, when they finished as a 2A runner-up. It will be Alleman’s seventh state trip overall, with four of the other five coming before 2000.
“That was one of our goals,” Snyder said of finishing in the final four. “Now we just want to win this thing.”
That possibility appeared bleak after the Indians (21-5) put up two in the first inning and two in the second before Alleman coach Jerry Burkhead would turn the ball over the Snyder.
Alleman starter Sam Mattecheck struggled, with B-E going up 2-0 after just nine pitches. He gave way to Snyder with no outs in the second.
“He has picked us up all year,” Mattecheck said of Snyder. “He did a great job, battled the whole game.”
Snyder finished with six innings pitched, giving up five hits and an unearned run in the seventh. He struck out 10 and walked one.
“We call him 'bulldog,' have called him that forever,” Burkhead said of Snyder. “We have a lot of confidence in him. He just grinds, and the rest of the team stepped up.”
The difference came in the third. The Pioneers (27-13) sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring five runs and giving Snyder a 5-4 lead.
The biggest play in that frame came from a player who didn’t even have a bat in his hand.
Junior Tyler Estes took over at first base as a courtesy runner for catcher Dominic Ferrari, who reached on an error. With Xavier Lara at the plate, Estes took off for the second while B-E starting pitcher Parker Brodine was still in his stretch. That resulted in a balk, and plated the tying run in Chase VanDerGinst.
That balk has a big influence on what followed. Estes went to third on a wild pitch and home on another wild one. Suddenly, Alleman had gained control.
“I’ve not been a part of that play before,” Estes said, “but coach has faith in me in certain situations. This is just a great feeling to be where we are right now."
Burkhead said Estes has been the team's unsung hero the last couple of games.
"He had the game-winning slide at home plate for us in the sectional game against Hall," Burkhead said.
Alleman, winner in seven of its last eight games, will face Teutopolis at 5 p.m. Friday at Dozier Park in Peoria. Teutopolis recorded a 3-0 super-sectional win over Harrisburg.