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Illinois baseball sectional previews
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Illinois baseball sectional previews

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CLASS 3A

Hampshire (18-16) at Geneseo (18-10), 6 p.m.: Coming off their first regional championship since 2017, the fifth-seeded Maple Leafs return to their home diamond at Richmond Hill Park's Stone Field for a matchup with No. 3 Hampshire. Two seasons ago, the Whip-Purs finished fourth at the Class 4A state tournament after winning just their second sectional championship (their first since 2008) and making their first appearance at state.

Now seeking its first sectional crown, Geneseo captured the fifth regional championship in its history with a pair of hard-earned victories. The Leafs claimed regional titles in 2012 and three straight from 2015-17, with all crowns coming in Class 3A. A three-run fifth inning boosted the Maple Leafs to a 6-5 semifinal win over No. 4 Rock Island before they upended top-seeded Rockford Boylan 5-3, scoring all of their runs in the top of the third as P.J. Moser and Kyle Traphagan each drove in two runs.

Winning pitcher Carson Rice went 2-for-4 at the plate along with his twin brother Charlie; the Rice brothers each have one postseason win this spring, with Moser recording saves in both victories.

Hampshire went from a 17-1, four-inning semifinal rout of Plano behind four RBIs apiece from Evan Spenk and Lorenzo Ranallo to a 1-0 title-game win over top-seeded Maple Park Kaneland as Dylan Petrey tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts; Petrey has both postseason wins for the Whip-Purs with a total of 17 Ks.

This evening's winner advances to Friday's 4:30 p.m. championship game against either No. 2 Dixon (16-2) or No. 5 Burlington Central (16-11).

CLASS 1A

Delavan (8-9) at Annawan-Wethersfield (13-7), 4:30 p.m.: As a reward for winning their first regional title since 2013, the fourth-seeded A-W Titans get to play on their home diamond at Annawan's Howes Park for the second time in three postseason dates this spring as they welcome No. 3 Delavan. Now a five-time regional winner as a co-op — A-W won four straight regionals from 2010-13 to go with the back-to-back titles won by Wethersfield in 1999 and 2000 — the Titans seek their first sectional plaque.

To get to this point, Annawan-Wethersfield battled to a 9-6 victory over Lincoln Trail Conference rival Ridgewood behind the hitting of senior standout Coltin Quagliano (3-for-4, two runs, two RBIs); Quagliano then stepped up on the pitcher's mound and delivered a two-hit, 12-strikeout performance in a 2-0 title-game win over Granville Putnam County.

During the regular season, the Titans finished second in the LTC with a 10-3 mark, edging Ridgewood by a half-game for runner-up status behind conference champion and first-time regional champion United (20-2); the top-seeded Red Storm also open sectional play today, hosting No. 3 Camp Point Central.

Delavan has won all four of its regional titles from 2012 on and has now won three straight regionals after not winning any postseason hardware since 1947. Also in search of their first sectional championship, the Panthers opened with a 14-2, five-inning romp past Peoria Heights behind four RBIs from Cole Noreuil (2-for-2) and three-RBI days by Landon Horning (2-for-3, four runs) and Zach McLean before edging Peoria Christian 5-4 in the title game on Evan Rademaker's eighth-inning RBI fielder's choice.

Today's winner advances to Friday's 4:30 p.m. championship game to face either another LTC club, second-seeded ROWVA-Williamsfield (11-5), or Illini Bluffs, which will face the Cougars this afternoon at 4:30.

— Terry Duckett

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