Macomb boys stop Sherrard, 5-1

Mitch Worley

 Prior to the final pitch of Wednesday’s Class 2A regional semifinal against Sherrard, Macomb starting pitcher Seth Wickert couldn’t keep from cracking a smile – he knew it was over and so did batter Jake Molberg.

“I was throwing him a splitter and I only occasionally throw it, and I ended up striking two guys out with it today,” Wickert explained. “I was pretty happy with that one and all of my other pitches – they were really working for me today.”

It was more than an understatement that Wickert’s pitches were working against the Tigers, as he allowed only four hits while striking out 10 batters in the Bombers’ 5-1 win over Sherrard, May 19, which advances them to Saturday’s regional title game.

“The only thing we’ve really done is (been) consistently inconsistent all year,” said Macomb head coach Danny Watson. “You win five in a row, you lose six in a row, and it’s one of those things where there’s little things in each game that hurts us.

“Usually, when Seth’s on the mound, it seems like he has a calming influence on us and he came out and struck out the first four and I think he was kind of matching (Logan) Frye pitch-for-pitch.”

That in itself was impressive, as Sherrard starting pitcher Logan Frye (4-2) had a perfect game through the first three and a third innings – notching four of his five strikeouts for the contest during that time.

The fork in the road for the two teams came in the top of the fourth inning when Frye surrendered a full-count walk to Derek Mabrey with one away, followed by another full-count walk to Tyler Thorman a batter later. Matt Lawver singled Mabrey home to put runners at the corners for Evan Bryant, who was more than ready to get back at Frye after striking him out in the second inning.

The senior center fielder lifted the first pitch of his second at-bat into deep left-center field for a three-run homer, providing the last bit of offense the Bombers would need to put the game away as they led 4-0 midway through the fourth inning.

“I went up there knowing he was probably going to throw me a first-pitch fastball,” Bryant recalled. “I was sitting on it and I got it letter-high, right down the middle, hit it hard and it went out. He got me the first time – struck me out – but I wasn’t going to let that happen again.”

Sherrard (15-10) got a run back in the bottom of the frame, as Austin Hamerlinck reached on an error at second and scored four batters later when Jeff Rollins got on base following an error at third base by Macomb.

From that point on, Wickert (5-3) retired 10 of the last 11 batters in order for Sherrard, the last of which was the junior’s 10th strikeout of the game.

On the offensive end for Macomb (16-16), Bryant went 1-for-2 with a pair of runs scored, a walk, homer and three RBI while Lawver was 1-for-3 with a single, run scored and RBI. Molberg was Sherrard’s only batter with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a strikeout.

Despite a 16-16 record after the win, Watson said he was unsure if the Bombers would be playing for a regional title this season after battling inconsistency like they have, but Sherrard head coach Sean McCollum felt like anyone in the tournament had a shot at the championship.

“I told our guys this was going to be a real tight regional,” McCollum said. “Mercer County lost in the play-in game to Macomb, but the other four teams that were left after that have beat up on each other all year in the Olympic.

“It was good that we got the No. 1 seed, but I told the kids that we’ve got that on our back and everyone wanted to chase us down and beat us, and that’s what happened.”

The Bombers will play the winner of today’s (May 20) contest between Rockridge and Monmouth-Roseville on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Edgington with Macomb High’s graduation set to begin later that night at Western Hall.

Rockridge and Monmouth-Roseville play at 4:30 p.m.

“It’s like I told the seniors, we’re going to come back up here, win a regional and then drive as fast as we can to get home and watch them walk across the stage,” Watson said. “Graduation is a great time and I know it’s very important for them, but I’ll bet they’ll be pretty proud of winning a regional title, too, because not too many seniors get a chance to do that.”