The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

May 26, 2013

Storm sews up sectional crown

LEROY —  As a whole, this baseball season might be one of the most unexpectedly successful that Salt Fork coach Gary Hansgen has experienced. But lately, there is little that has surprised the coaching veteran. From clutch hitting and solid defense, to composure on the mound from a young pitching staff, the Storm have carried with them a quiet confidence that makes onlookers wonder why anyone would question this year’s success.

With each postseason win, Salt Fork adds another page to the story that attempts to explain the Storm’s remarkable run. And on Saturday, an exclamation point was officially added to the latest page when Salt Fork shut out Iroquois West 4-0 to secure the IHSA Class 1A LeRoy Sectional title. It is the program’s third sectional title in the last five years.

“It’s great,” Hansgen said. “We didn’t expect to be here. We thought maybe in a year, but then we got to looking at the way things had been developing. We got to talking the other day in practice that it’s there. The line is there.”

Whether or not that line goes all the way to Peoria and the state finals is yet to be determined, but for now, the line extends to Monday’s Class 1A University of Illinois Super-Sectional where the Storm will take on Galva/Williamsfield (15-7) at noon at Illinois Field.

The last time Salt Fork (21-7) played in a super-sectional was in 2010 when it lost 8-7 to Tri-Valley. Junior pitcher and infielder Cole Taylor was in eighth grade at the time, but remembers going to the game and taking in the atmosphere. This year he will go with a different perspective and an opportunity to help Salt Fork make history. That opportunity might not have been extended to Salt Fork if not for a fourth-inning leaping catch the shortstop made in shallow left field.

The Storm had just taken a 3-0 lead in the third, and Iroquois West had the bases loaded, only one out, and was threatening to get on the board.

Freshman pitcher Connor Taylor had other plans. He got Hector Reyes to pop up the first pitch of his at bat for the inning’s second out, but then nearly saw his shutout bid ruined.

Iroquois West’s Payton Stiers hit what appeared to be a two-out bloop single into shallow left field that would have pulled the Raiders to within 3-1. Instead, Cole Taylor ran down the ball on a perfect angle and made a leaping catch that got the Storm out of the inning and kept his brother’s shutout intact.

“That was unreal,” Hansgen said. “There was a can of worms right there that was about to open up. We were in trouble if that thing dropped right there. You don’t know where the game’s going to go. That could have been a big momentum shift.”

The catch left Cole Taylor nearly speechless, though he realized the play’s impact on the game.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he said. “It’s a great feeling. You know that two runs at least are going to score that inning, maybe more if that doesn’t happen. Who knows what could have happened; it could have been a huge momentum shift.

“We had momentum after that. In the dugout, (Hansgen) was trying to get us up, trying to get us to score more runs that inning. I think we got one more. That really helped just keeping the momentum our way.”

The Storm added one more run in the fifth inning when sophomore Noah Darr scored on a series of Iroquois West mishaps. After reaching on a single to center, Darr advanced to second on a passed ball. He later stole third and scored when the catcher’s throw sailed into left field.

Darr also scored the Storm’s third run in the third inning on a passed ball after driving in a run on a single to right. Ross Learnard drove in a run as well in the inning on a double.

Hansgen had a good feeling about his team’s prospects of winning the sectional title following Cole Taylor’s catch, and the Storm’s confidence increased throughout the game. In the top of the fifth, the Raiders had a runner on third and one out. The Salt Fork defense ended the threat when it turned a 6-3-2 double play.

Connor Taylor (7-1) got out of another bases-loaded jam in the sixth with the help of another double play, this time a more traditional 4-6-3 turn.

“We went out there and did a great job,” Connor Taylor said. “The defense did fantastic. It was just an all-around great day.

“I just have to thank my fielders. They did a tremendous job and made plays for us. They got it done.”

While Connor Taylor credited his defense, recognition was reflected back to the freshman pitcher who has still given up only one earned run this season. In addition to allowing only two walks, Connor Taylor struck out two and induced seven ground ball outs. Five other outs were a result of infield pop-ups.

“When we were warming up today, he was spotting his curveball every now and then,” said Darr, Salt Fork’s catcher. “Once we got to about the third inning it started coming around and he started working everything. His fastball was working today, and the defensive plays by Cole Taylor were huge. All those double plays that we made, it was a very good game.”

According to Hansgen, the Storm have so far shattered the program’s record for defense with a 96 percent efficiency rate.

Iroquois West’s Henry Gerritson (10-4) took the loss on only two full days of rest despite giving up five hits, three walks, two earned runs, and striking out nine.

The win was Salt Fork’s 12th in its last 13 games, and it is hoping the hot streak continues for another week.

“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had; sectional championship, moving on to super-sectionals, playing in Champaign. That’s a big deal,” Cole Taylor said. “We had momentum in the last couple of games coming back. Hopefully we have momentum going into the super-sectional.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0730 - Dans baseball photo 1 Dans continue to struggle DANVILLE — The Danville Dans haven’t exactly been playing their best baseball in the second half of the season. After taking the West Division title in the first half with a 19-11 record, Danville has played sub-.500 baseball in the second half and c

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0730 - Illini football media photo Experienced Illini looking for success CHICAGO — Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Tim Beckman is hoping that the third time is the charm.Beckman begins his third season at the helm of the Illini, and with the nucleus of last season’s team returning, it may finally be time for Illinois

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - CN0730 - Purdue football media photo Hazell hopes for smooth second season CHICAGO — After a season to forget in 2013, Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is expecting better results as his team begins training camp next week. Hazell spoke to the media during the 2014 Big Ten Football Media Days at the Hilton Chicago, and afte

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local Sports Calendar TODAYProspect League BaseballHannibal Cavemen at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.THURSDAYProspect League BaseballWest Virginia Miners at Danville Dans, 6:30 p.m.Local TennisMcTagertt Tennis Tournament at North Montgomery, 3:30 p.m.FRIDAYLocal TennisMcTagertt

    July 30, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Dustbowl photo 2 Repeat performance Championship Sunday was in full swing at the 42nd Annual Dustbowl at David S. Palmer Arena. In the men’s division it was defending champions Leek & Sons against the Hickory Beavers. Leek & Sons made it back to back championships with a 29-point victo

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0729 - Brickyard photo Gordon kisses 'The Bricks' for 5th time INDIANAPOLIS — The common gift for a 20th anniversary is either china or platinum.But for Jeff Gordon on Sunday, he was more interested in the PPG Trophy made of gold, sterling silver and alloy aluminum and the native of Pittsboro, Ind., wasn’t going

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Old friends meet again in city tourney DANVILLE — Gene Gourley and Bryan Stine have a lot of history on the tennis court. The two of them, who have been playing each other at the Danville Tennis Center for over 20 years, renewed their rivalry again on Sunday during the Greater Danville Ar

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Junior Dustbowl photo Free throws decide junior Dustbowl title DANVILLE — In the boys’s Division it was DV Stars vs. Squad for the Championship with the Squad coming back from an early 16-point deficit to beat DV Stars 59-55 in overtime. Squads Parker Lee made one of two free throws with 18 seconds left in regul

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Keys leads College Girls to Dustbowl title The girls division championship between County Girls and College Girls was a close battle between two fine teams. The College Girls never trailed in the second half and squeaked out a victory over the County Girls 32-29.After a timeout was called by

    July 29, 2014

  • SPT - CN0729 - Big Ten Media mug Big Ten unveils new look CHICAGO — Welcome to the new look Big Ten.The Big Ten Conference held its 43rd annual Football Media Days on Monday at the Hilton Chicago and in the first day of the two day event, a lot of different topics were discussed, and a few more concepts fo

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

E-edition
NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'