‘Birds earn third in 3A state

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
The Metamora varsity baseball team celebrates with the third-place trophy after its 10-1 win over Grayslake Central Saturday.

The road to the 3A state tourney in Joliet Friday-Saturday was paved in cheers, jaw drops but most importantly, a third-place finish.

The Metamora varsity baseball team defeated Grayslake Central, 10-1, for third after being defeated by Lemont, 8-3, in the semifinal game. 

Lemont won the 3A state championship with a 2-1 win over Sacred Heart Griffin.

Sophomores Geremy Guerrero and Alex Lewis started on the mound in the state tourney. Guerrero held Grayslake Central to just one run in the Redbirds final game for third place and Lewis kept Lemont in check until the bottom of the fifth.

State semi-final v. Lemont

Metamora may have gotten the jump on Lemont in the top of the first with two quick runs but the lead was short lived.

Leading off, Peyton Biernat walked to get on first. Brady Fairfield watched two balls pass  before connecting and sending one to center for a triple and to have Biernat score.

Ethan Skender walked after four straight balls. Skender stole second with Drew Beenders at the plate. 

Fairfield was still safe at third when Brendan Nachtrieb grounded out to first but gave enough time for Fairfield to get one more run in.

“It was scripted all the way that we hoped. We were visitors and we were actually celebrating that. That’s how we’ve played all post-season, is to get out and get on top early,” coach Eric Stone said.

The Indians responded in the bottom of the half with four of its own runs.  

Five consecutive hits put in the first three runs and a single to left added the fourth.

“Our guys definitely fought hard and battled. Things could have caved in early and we held it together and we kind of hung around,” Stone said.

“That’s what our message was after the first inning. To battle and scrap and we did.”

Lewis got his first of two strikeouts of the game in the fourth. Two Lemont runners were set up on first and second and the fifth at bat struckout swinging on a 1-2 count.

“I was pretty nervous at 

at the beginning,” Lewis said.

“I’m not much of a strikeout pitcher. I pitch hit-strikes and let my defense help me out.”

The last Redbird run was posted to the board in the fifth. Fairfield led off with a grounder to the shortstop and was safe at first.

He advanced to third while Skender was swinging. With Beenders at the plate, Fairfield got across the plate when Beenders grounded out.

The Indians posted their last two runs in the sixth when a two-run homer skimmed past the right-field foul post.

Gabe Dean and Braden Mann saw the mound in the last Redbird defensive attack and helped close out the game before any more damage could be done.

Third-place duel v. Grayslake Central

Five strikeouts by Guerrero and well-placed fielding by the Redbird defence held Grayslake Central to only one run but an offensive attack across two innings gave way for a 10-1 victory for third-place in the state.

Metamora had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first but came up short when a double play ended the inning.

It wasn’t until the fifth when the first run of the game was scored. 

The Rams led off with a line-single to right and a sacrifice bunt on the next play put the runner on second. A grounder to first was enough to get the run in but a flyout in foul territory to Beenders ended the inning.

The Redbirds didn’t fall behind for long when three runs were put across the plate for their lead.

Zach Theiler was leading off when he knocked a single to the shortstop.  Gage Thompson up next sacrificed a bunt to put Theiler on second.

With a full count, Fairfield grounded to right for the RBI off Theiler scoring the first run.

Skender watched a ball go by, fouled one and then made contact to triple to center for Fairfield to score.

A sacrifice bunt by Beenders gave Metamora a 3-1 lead off Skender crossing home to finish the inning off.

In the sixth, another seven Redbird runs were put on the board.

“To get that 3-1 cushion, we felt good with Geremy on the mound, but putting seven runs on the board makes it a little more easy,” Stone said.

Leading off, Guerrero caught a break when a Rams error at third put him safe at first. Biernat then knocked one to left to set up pinch-runner Joe Kennell on third.

Fairfield was intentionally walked and a flyout from Skender to center put Kennell home.

With two outs, the Metamora lead grew one run at a time.

Five consecutive hits by Beenders, Nachtrieb, Caleb Brachbill, Jake Guede and then Guerrero added six more runs for the 10-1 lead.

Guerrero put in the last two off a line drive to center for Brachbill and pinch-runner Braden Mann to cross home.

The Rams received three quick outs in their final attempt to get back in the game and the game was sealed when Guede caught the last flyball in foul territory behind the plate.

Guerrero finished on the mound with five strikeouts in the seven innings.

“All of my pitches, I was executing them very well,” Guerrero said. “The defense was on point all day.”

Skender led at the plate going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and had nothing but praise for the Redbird’s performance.

“There was no way were going out today with a loss and we did it for our seniors with a third-place win,” Skender said. “Hopefully we’ll come back next year and get a state championship.”