Baseball: Hall capitalizes on IVC mistakes to win second straight regional

Red Devils advance to IVC Sectional against Peoria Notre Dame

Members of the Hall baseball team hoist the Class 2A Regional title plaque after defeating Chillicothe on Saturday, May 28, 2024 at Kirby Park in Spring Valley.

SPRING VALLEY - Sometimes you beat your opponents.

Other times, you let them beat themselves.

The Hall baseball encountered the second option Saturday.

In the Class 2A Hall Regional championship against IVC, the Red Devils forced the issue as aggressive base running, patient at-bats and letting the Grey Ghosts make their own mistakes fueled Hall to an 8-4 regional title victory.

“That’s the kind of team we’ve been all year,” Hall senior Max Bryant said. “We’re not the team that will put up 10, 12, 15 runs. We have to be scrappy and play the small game. Usually, if we can speed people up, it works out pretty well for us.”

The Red Devils scored five runs in the second inning and two runs in the third inning to build an 7-0 lead, but they had just two hits over the two innings despite scoring seven runs.

In those two innings combined, Hall took five walks, had one hit batter, IVC committed three errors – including a two-run error at home plate on a safety squeeze – threw a wild pitch and had a costly non-tag that would’ve ended Hall’s second inning without a run scored.

“We like to put pressure on teams, and make a high school kid field the ball and make a throw,” Hall senior Payton Dye said. “We like to take advantage of every situation that we can.”

With the victory, the Red Devils (20-9) won their second straight regional, fifth regional since 2017 and sixth regional under coach Tom Keegan.

Hall advances to the 2A IVC Sectional where it will meet Peoria Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the second semifinal.

“I’m so happy for our guys, especially our seniors who have left even more of a footprint by winning another regional title,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said.

Hall first baseman Isaac Rrust stretches to catch the ball as Chillicothe's Cole Yates steps on the bag safely during the Class 2A Regional game on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at Kirby Park in Spring Valley.

After a scoreless first inning, the Red Devils took off in the top of the second.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Hall’s Evan Stefaniak hit a chopper to the IVC third baseman, who fielded the ball and attempted to tag Bryant on his way to third, but Bryant avoided the tag. The third baseman instead threw to first where Stefaniak beat the throw to score a run, but the ball bounced away from the first baseman to allow Bryant to score and give Hall a 2-0 lead.

Still with two outs, Hall continued to add runs.

Joel Koch scored from third on an errant pickoff attempt by the IVC catcher that sailed into left field, while Dye drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 4-0.

Luke Bryant made it 5-0 after he scored on an error by the IVC pitcher.

After Max Bryant threw a scoreless bottom of the second, Hall was back at it in the third.

With runners at second and third and one out, Max Bryant laid down a safety squeeze. The IVC pitcher fielded the ball and threw home to tag out courtesy runner Jack Curran, but the throw was high, wide and went to the backstop to also allow Braden Curran to score to make it 7-0.

“We had a few hits,” Keegan said, “but a bunch of crazy high school type plays allowed us to score.”

On the mound, Max Bryant pitched into and out of trouble all day as IVC had a baserunner reach at least second base in each of Bryant’s four innings, but the Hall senior avoided major trouble.

In all, Bryant allowed two earned runs on five hits over four innings as he struck out four and walked four.

With Hall up 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Dye came on in relief and shut down the Grey Ghosts (19-13). He allowed two earned runs – both in the seventh inning – on three hits to close out the victory.

“Max wasn’t super sharp by any means,” Keegan said, “but he grinded it out and stranded some runners, and we were able to hand the ball to Payton, who took us the rest of the way.”

Hall lead-off hitter Luke Bryant finished 2 for 2 with two singles, two hit by pitches and two runs scored, while No. 3 hitter Jack Jabolonski had two hits, a walk and two RBIs. Braden Curran scored two runs.

Six different Red Devils had a hit, six different players scored and all nine batters reached base.

Hall's Hunter Edgcomb slides safely into third base as the throw comes in late to Chillicothe's CK Witte during the Class 2A Regional game on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at Kirby Park in Spring Valley.
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