During the state finals of the Illinois High School Association that took place this past weekend in Joliet, hitters from high schools tore the ball all over Duly Health and Care Field.
There were lasers all the way down the line, and there were enormous explosions in center field. However, during the course of the eight games, there was only one home run hit, and it occurred during Edwardsville’s nail-biting victory over Mundelein in the game that decided who would win the Class 4A championship.
Adam Powell, a senior left-handed batter for the Tigers who stands 6-0 and weighs 200 pounds, launched a deep fly ball to the opposite field in the fifth inning. There was one runner on base, and there was no score in the game so far.
Powell remarked that at the first attempt, the feeling was favorable. “I didn’t believe it was even close to going out,” the speaker said. Perhaps in the role of a free ball. However, it continued as before until I reached second base, at which point I was completely unaware that it had disappeared. I just wasn’t able to comprehend it any longer.”
The home run that Powell hit likely wasn’t the best ball hit during the course of the weekend, but it was a major blow because it gave Edwardsville a 2-0 lead and what appeared to be a clear path to the championship.
Gannon Burns, who was starting for Edwardsville and throwing the ball, remarked, “I was not expecting that to go out.” You can’t possibly believe that a left-handed batter will hit it 350 feet in that manner. It stoked the flames of enthusiasm within us and propelled us on.
However, Mundelein was resurrected from the grave. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Mustangs staged a comeback by scoring three runs and taking the lead. It appeared as though they had finally had Burns’s attention.
In the sixth inning, neither team was able to score, and Mundelein maintained their 3-2 lead.
Edwardsville (34-4) scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to take back the lead, and Burns stepped out to the mound to attempt to seal the state championship by pitching a complete game.
“He’s a dude,” Powell referred to him. “He’s one of those people where there were a couple of moments when he looked a bit shaky, but I had full confidence that he was going to get the job done for us,” I said. “He’s one of those guys where there were a couple of spots where he looked a little shaky.”
Burns did it. The first batter Mundelein faced was eliminated by his strikeout. For the Mustangs, Connor Weik was successful in drawing a walk, but Burns got two ground outs to earn Edwardsville its fourth state championship.
Burns went the distance on the mound, giving just one earned run on five hits while striking out seven batters. He issued three free passes while striking out five batters.
Additionally, the Tigers won the state championship in the years 2019, 1998, and 1990. They have made 16 trips to the state championship game, making them one of the most successful schools in the state.
Michael Farina (1), Drew Wellington (3), and Christian Seminario (16), all of Mundelein, walk off the field following their team’s defeat to Edwardsville in the Class 4A championship game.
Photographed by Allen Cunningham for the Chicago Sun-Times
Burns attributed their success to both the team’s coaching staff and the amount of work they put out. “This provides us with a level of depth that the vast majority of other schools do not have.”
Caden Morton, Mundelein’s starting pitcher, had spent the majority of the season working as a reliever, but he was called into action in the state championship game because of an emergency.
His performance was commensurate with the stakes, as he limited Edwardsville’s potent attack to just three hits and two runs over the course of five innings. It was only his second start of the season, but it was also his longest outing so far.
Randy Lerner, the coach of the Mustangs, noted that Caden has “worked his butt off” to get to where he is now. “The fact that I was able to step in and start like that was great.”
Danny Connelly’s two-run double in the fifth inning put the Mustangs ahead late and had their energized fans nearly tasting a state championship. Tommy Stricklin had two singles for Mundelein (29-6), and his teammate Connelly’s double scored two runs.
Lerner stated, “I am really proud of the fight that we have had throughout the entire year.” “This was an incredible game of baseball played at the high school level. Both teams were missing their best pitchers, so the players battled it out instead. A game for the title should be played exactly like that.