Gillespie Indians place runner-up at state
By: JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
They may not have gotten the ultimate prize, but the Gillespie Middle School baseball team put together a run for the ages and earned the opportunity to play on the Illinois Elementary School Association’s grand stage at East Peoria’s Eastside Sports Complex. Monday afternoon, the team ended its 2019 season with a second place showing at the state competition.
IESA Class 2A State Quarterfinal
The Indians used a five-run first inning to take down Germantown Hills, 6-3, which guaranteed themselves two more games.
IESA Class 2A State Semifinal
Pleasant Plains erased an early 4-1 Gillespie advantage, but collapsed after taking an 8-6 advantage into the seventh. The Indians broke out for four runs as they did in the second and advanced to the 2A final with a 10-9 victory in an instant classic.
IESA Class 2A State Championship
Gillespie managed to take a one-run lead on Joliet St. Paul on two separate occassions early on, but couldn’t quite recover from a mid-game landslide. Gillespie fell short 8-4 after getting the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh.
“We talked throughout the first week of practice and we said that we had the potential to do something special if everything fell into place,” said Gillespie head coach Jeremy Smith. “We battled from day one. There were a lot of ups and downs but we hung in there. To think that we would have a chance going into that last inning down 8-2 would’ve been kind of hard to believe but we gave ourselves a fighting chance while getting the guys that we wanted to the plate.”
The state runner-up Indians finished their season with a 16-3 record and overtook Joliet St. Paul 13-9 in the hit catagory despite defeat.
Jesse Berry and Logan Griffith accounted for half of those hits with three each for GMS.
Bryce Buhs, Jaydon Baker and Tristen Wargo also ended the season with multi-hit performances.
Additionally, Wargo turned in 4 2/3 innings of work on the mound while striking out five.
The book may be closed for now, but Smith and his boys are looking to a bright future while remembering and cherishing all of the memories they made as the preparation for 2020 begins.
“This was an experience that everyone dreams about,” Smith said. “Not many people get a chance to do this, but we don’t just want this year. I told the guys that this is something we can build on. It brings the community together and now it just needs to stay together. Our eighth graders’ legacy they left was a good one. We were heavy at that grade level, but we had several seventh graders step up as well. It’ll be fun to watch all these players when they get to high school.”