Class 1A baseball: Alex Ankiewicz, Gus Burr send St. Bede to sectional final

Ankiewicz throws 3-hit shutout, Burr hits key triple in Bruins’ 7-0 win over Heyworth

St. Bede coach Bill Booker presents the Bruins' Player of the Game helmet to Gus Burr (left) and Alex Ankiewicz after Wednesday's 7-0 sectional win over Heyworth. Burr had a key three-run triple to break the game open in the fourth inning. Ankiewicz.spun a three-hit, shutout with 12 strikeouts to pitch the Bruins into Saturday's championship game vs. Annawan/Wethersfield at 11 a.m.

BLOOMINGTON – Bill Booker couldn’t pick just one player of the game after his St. Bede Bruins beat Heyworth in Wednesday’s Class 1A Bloomington Sectional semifinal.

So he picked two, Alex Ankiewicz and Gus Burr.

Ankiewicz tossed a complete-game, three-hit 7-0 shutout to help get the Bruins into Saturday’s sectional championship at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Jack Horenberger Field.

Burr provided the spark that the Bruins needed with a three-run triple in the fourth inning to break the game open.

“We made those two our players of the game. Well deserved,” Booker said.

“This is what we’ve been looking toward all year. We all believe in each other. We have a lot of trust,” Burr said. “To win a game like this is really big. It’s big for the school. Keep moving on.”

The Bruins (21-14) will face Annawan/Wethersfield (19-6-1), which beat Dwight 8-4 in Wednesday’s second semifinal.

“It’s going to be competitive. We’re going to have to compete. I think we’re going to do good,” Burr said.

Burr stepped up to the plate in the top of the fourth with the Bruins leading 2-0 and the bases loaded and one out. He promptly cleared the bases with a deep drive to the right center field fence for a three-run triple.

“That’s the goal, hit the other way. Got the bases loaded. Just try to find some green out there,” Burr said. “The pitcher made a mistake right down the middle, and I drove it to right center. When I can make an impact, I love to do that. It’s always good.”

“He’s got a lot better this year at being able to take the off-speed the other way, and he just hit that hard,” Booker said. “That was a shot. And that was a shot in the arm for us.”

Nathan Husser followed with a line drive up the middle to score Burr and put the Bruins up 6-0. Carson Riva and Geno Dinges got things started with one-out singles.

Ankiewicz said the rally made his job easier on the mound.

“To get a four spot in that inning broke the game open. Just a huge confidence booster, especially for me to go out there and keep throwing,” he said.

Ankiewicz was in control right from the start, retiring the first nine batters he faced. Maddux Klawitter got the Hornets’ first hit leading off the fourth inning and wound up with two of their three hits on the day.

He finished the day with 12 strikeouts and only one walk.

“Once I got through the first batter, I felt pretty confident in all my pitches,” Ankiewicz said. “I showed all pitches except for my changeup. It came towards the end of the game. Once I got that, I was pretty much in control of every pitch I had, and I had it from there.”

“He was phenomenal,” Burr said. “Curveball started working first inning. When you got a guy doing that, you’ve got to get him runs. I think we did a good job today. Executed. Didn’t get behind in a lot of counts. It was great to see.”

Husser led the Bruins with two hits and two RBIs, while Burr drove in four runs.

The Bruins got on the scoreboard in the top of the third with two runs on one hit.

Dinges drew a lead-off walk. Ryan Slingsby dropped down a sac bunt to Heyworth pitcher Noah Eldredge, whose low throw to first shot down the right field line, sending Dinges to third and Slingsby to second. Burr hit a sac fly to right to put the Bruins up 1-0.

Husser followed with a double to center to bring home Slingsby to make it 2-0.

After the Bruins’ four-run fourth, the Bruins employed some “Booker Ball” for another run in the fifth. Dinges laid down a beauty of a suicide squeeze bunt to bring home Aidan Mullane to go up 7-0.

“We loved it. We were hoping for it there in the dugout, and he gave it to us. So were pretty excited. Always works,” Ankiewicz said.

“We executed it, and it puts pressure on them,” Booker said. “You don’t want to do too much in the big games. I had a guy tell me that a long, long time ago. Stay with what you do.”

Booker said it was a good win for the Bruins.

“They executed defensively. We had timely hitting and Anky was just stellar on the mound,” he said. “[Winning sectional games] never gets old. It just changes with the group of kids.”

Now the Bruins turn their sights to the Titans for Saturday’s sectional championship game.

“They have a lot of big, talented kids. Saw them play Princeville a couple weeks ago. It’s going to be a heckuva game,” he said.

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