Cavaliers surge to first baseball sectional since 2013
By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
The Carlinville baseball Cavaliers were a major underdog last time they raised up a regional championship plaque. On Saturday, the expectations were completely reversed. The Cavies had already broken their school’s historical barrier with a 20-win regular season, but the quest for the ultimate goal was just beginning. Some pressure was in effect, but a veteran-led squad stood strong and proved its worth. For the first time since 2013, Carlinville is in the Illinois High School Association’s (IHSA) sectional field.
The Cavies began postseason play with a highly-anticipated rematch against one of their South Central rivals. Although their records were at opposite poles, the Pana Panthers ensured that the red and blue would need seven innings to avoid an upset in a May 6 conference contest. Carlinville pulled away with three late tallies to survive, 7-3. This time, only a single frame was necessary in revealing the victor. The Cavies struck first with an early run, which ended up being enough to ice the game. The regional host Panthers were coming in with momentum off of a first round win over Sullivan, but an ace Carlinville pitching unit was well-rested and ready to go. Colton DeLong, Kyle Dixon and Tucker Hughes combined for 14 strikeouts without a scratch in the walk column. The Cavalier bats added insurance with a run in the third plus a fifth-inning pair en route to a 4-0 triumph.
Saturday’s regional championship against Shelbyville started out with the feel of an intense boxing match that featured two heavyweight punchers. The Cavies got off to a red hot 5-0 start, but the Rams quickly erased that deficit with a game-tying third inning outburst. Carlinville, completely unfazed by the adversity, exploded for five of its own in the bottom half. From then on out, Shelbyville was completely shut down and unable to recover a second time. The Cavies chalked up three additional runs down the stretch to put the icing on the cake. Dixon came to the rescue and earned the clinching victory with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. The senior also picked up two big hits at the plate, including a home run. Hughes added four hits and four RBIs. 13-5 was the final score.
The Cavaliers are now 22-2 overall and battling in the IHSA Class 2A Sectional at Pleasant Plains.
The Carlinville Cavaliers hoist the championship plaque following a 13-5 victory over Shelbyville in the IHSA Class 2A baseball regional final at Pana. Photo by Amy Rosentreter.
Kyle Dixon homered and drove in a pair of runs while earning a pitching victory in bullpen relief during Saturday’s regional championship game. Photo by Amy Rosentreter.