GRANT PARK – At the start of the season, with his youngest roster of his near three-decade career, St. Bede coach Bill Booker wasn’t sure what type of postseason run the Bruins could make.
But with the leadership of seniors Dominic Bima, Braden Damerell and Logan Griggs and the development of underclassmen, the Bruins got on a roll toward the end of the season and won a regional championship.
“A lot of teams didn’t make it this far, and a lot of teams didn’t think we’d make it this far,” St. Bede junior Logan Humpage said. “Everybody kind of looked at us as the laughing stock of the Illinois Valley, but we proved everybody wrong.”
However, the run ended Wednesday as St. Bede couldn’t overcome an early deficit in a 10-4 loss to Grant Park in a Class 1A sectional semifinal.
“I can’t be more proud of a group,” Booker said. “Our three seniors worked hard. Our young guys developed. There are a lot of underclassmen playing on this field. It’s the youngest team I’ve ever coached. Early season, I didn’t know if we’d be playing after the first round of the regional. For them to come and do what they did and finish the way they did other than today, it’s a little bit of a building block. This should sting for a while. It should be motivation going into the offseason because we have a lot of young guys who can get bigger, faster and stronger. They’re going to improve and hopefully we can make another run next year.”
This season’s run came to an end as the Bruins’ fell behind after the first inning as an error and back-to-back RBI singles by Kade Lacer and Sawyer Loitz gave the Dragons a 3-0 lead.
Grant Park led by at least three the rest of the way.
“Any time you fall behind in a big game, you tighten up a little bit, and I think we did that a little bit today,” Booker said. “You still have to execute. You still have to score when you get the chance and we didn’t cash in on some chances with guys on base. That’s why we are going home.
“In all aspects of the game from pitching to defense to hitting, we didn’t play well. That’s as a group. We needed to compete a little bit more. Sure, we’d like another shot at them, but this time of the year you get one shot and that’s it. I liked our chances coming in. It’s just a matter of we didn’t get the job done today.”
The Dragons added a run in the second and another in the fourth when rain started to fall.
In a steady rain, the Bruins got on the board in the fifth.
Tyreke Fortney reached on an error, and following a strikeout, Dan Dugosh was hit by a pitch.
After a groundout, Humpage delivered an RBI single before the rain picked up and led to a 40-minute delay.
After the delay, Colin Nave walked and Jayce Ladzinski was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Dugosh.
The Dragons responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning
After the Bruins scored two more in the sixth with a two-run single by Humage, Grant Park once again responded, this time with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.
“They answered every time,” Booker said. “This time of year you want to win an inning. It’s a momentum game. When they kept answering us trying to get back into it, that put their thumb on us a little bit. We had to play catch up all game. We got away with it the other night (in the regional final). We didn’t get away with it tonight.”
The Bruins finish 12-12.
“We always had positive attitudes,” Humpage said. “Every once in a while we got a little off, but coach Booker was always there to help us. As soon as we started hitting, we won. We had good fielding and some good pitching.
“I think next year is going to be better. I think we’ll have better pitching and lot more hitting. This summer we’re going to get after it in the weight room.”