GALESBURG — The Streator baseball team got back to Streator around 11:50 p.m. Friday after beating Geneseo in the second game of a Class 3A Galesburg Regional semifinal doubleheader.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, the Bulldogs boarded the bus for a return trip to Galesburg to take on the host Silver Streaks in the regional championship.
No. 8-seeded Galesburg took control early en route to a 10-0, five-inning victory over No. 3 Streator.
The Bulldogs only managed one hit, while four Streator pitchers allowed 10 runs on eight hits, including a pair of home runs.
“It was a tough turnaround playing the late one and coming back here, but you’re not going to win too many games when you only get one hit,” Streator coach Beau Albert said. “You have to tip your cap to Galesburg and Charlie Lardi, their pitcher. He had us off balance. They came out and put the ball in play. We fell behind in some counts and they were sitting on fastballs and did a nice job of driving the ball into the outfield and hitting some gaps.”
For the Streaks, it is their second regional title since coach Jeremy Pickrel took over in 2018 with the other coming in 2019.
“It feels great after the year we had,” Pickrel said. “It was kind of up and down. All year we’ve been challenging the boys to really play up to their potential that we all saw they had. Over the course of these last three weeks of the season, we really dialed in and you saw in these three games in the regional. We thought we were a little slighted getting the eight seed. So we used that as motivation to prepare for the postseason.”
The Streaks grabbed momentum early when cleanup hitter Easton Steck launched a three-run home run with one out in the top of the first inning.
“We fell behind before and these guys have done a great job of coming back from behind,” Albert said. “It was just one of those days. Other days when we fell behind, our sticks got going the second time around in the order and today we just couldn’t muster anything against (Lardi).”
Galesburg scored two runs in the third and added two more in the fourth on a two-run homer by Kannon Kleine, who added a two-run single as part of a three-run fifth inning that helped the Streaks end the game early.
Lardi did the rest as he pitched a one-hitter — a double by Adam Williamson to start the fourth — while striking out five batters and walking two.
“We swung the bats and pitched it really well,” Pickrel said. “We made plays when we needed to.
“(Lardi) wasn’t as sharp. Before the game he was kind of nursing a tight back and he battled through it. He really had his changeup working, he threw enough breaking balls and he’s got a lot of movement on his fastball and was able to move it in and out. Even when they threatened to score, he continued to battle and make pitches.”
Parker Phillis took the loss for Streator, allowing five runs on two hits with a strikeout, two walks and two hit batters in two innings. Christian Benning, Cole Martin and Cooper Spears also pitched for the Bulldogs.
The Streaks (20-15) advance to the Washington Sectional at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The Bulldogs end the season 18-11.
“We know what it felt like last year to celebrate on this field then we celebrated winning a regional at Dunlap,” Albert said. “We just fell short today. I told them they have to keep their heads up. They have a lot to be proud of this season, winning a conference championship for the first time in 10 years. They accomplished a lot. We just fell short today.”