Baseball: St. Bede wins first regional title in three years

Bruins use patience at plate, strong pitching by Ankiewicz, Seth Ferrari to beat AlWood 11-2

St. Bede pitcher Seth Ferrari lets go of a throw to Princeville during the Class 1A Regional semifinal game on Friday, May 17, 2024 at St. Bede Academy.

PERU - The St. Bede baseball team was in search of its first regional title in three years entering Saturday’s Class 1A St. Bede Regional championship.

The No. 3-seeded Bruins used a patient approach at the plate and then rode the arms of two seniors to earn their first regional plaque since 2021 with an 11-2 victory over No. 2 AlWood.

“We knew we had a good pitcher going against us so we wanted to be patient and try to build up his pitch count and it worked for us today,” St. Bede coach Bill Booker said. “It’s a luxury to have a pair of seniors to go to on the mound. Alex (Ankiewicz) and Seth (Ferrari) both really threw the ball well. They located well and this was the plan going in, but it doesn’t always work that way.

“We have been in seven of the last nine regional finals and this one finally puts us above .500.”

St. Bede (20-14) to play Heyworth (15-17) in an Illinois Wesleyan University Sectional semifinal at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The game started with the Bruins working five walks to force in a run before Luke Tunell delivered a two-run hit to put St. Bede up 3-0. A batter later, Carson Riva hit a sacrifice and the Bruins took the field defensively with a 4-0  lead.

That’s when Ankiewicz began his dominant day, retiring the side in order and getting his team back to the plate.

St. Bede pitcher Alex Ankiewcz lets go of a throw to Princeville during the Class 1A Regional semifinal game on Friday, May 17, 2024 at St. Bede Academy.

“I felt good today after throwing some last night. It felt right. I was spotting the ball well and I went out there thinking the guys got me four runs so I need to hold them right there,” Ankiewicz said. “I got my work in and then handed it off to Seth. It’s fun to pitch when the offense scores like that and I know I have Seth to close it out.”

The Spartans got their first run in the second as Ryle Catour singled and came around a batter later on a single from Matt Maher to tighten up the score to 4-1 after two innings.

In the third, the Bruins came out hitting as Gino Ferrari led off with a walk before Riva singled. Geno Dinges followed him on with a walk before Ryan Slingsby ripped a two-run single to increase the lead to 6-1.

The score grew to 7-1 on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gus Burr before the final run of the inning scored on a delayed steal from Slingsby, who slyly crept down the line before hitting the accelerator and beating the catcher to the corner of home plate to make the score 8-1 heading to the third.

Neither team scored again until the top of the sixth when the Bruins used an error and a pair of singles from Alan Specncer and Tunnell to take 9-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth where Ankiewicz gave way to Seth Ferrari.

The Spartans got singles from Sean Watt, Zach Arendondo and Alex White, but Ferrari battled back and posted three strikeouts to limit the damage to one run and the  Bruins led 9-2 heading to the last inning.

“With the weather warming up, I get more movement on my curveball,” Ferrari said. “It’s nice to go in when your team has built a 9-1 lead. Anke (Ankiewicz) did a great job getting here and that was the plan for him to get it to me and for me to finish the game.”

The Bruins added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh on singles from Slingsby, Burr and Nathan Husser before Ferrari would set the Spartans down in order to give the Bruins an 11-2 victory.

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