By Drake Skleba
For the Enterprise 

Clock has not run out on Cinderella Bengals

Plainfield East's eight-run seventh stuns Yorkville 11-8 for Class 4A Yorkville Sectional championship


Last updated 6/21/2021 at 1:13pm

In the insane 2021 IHSA boys varsity baseball season, the Plainfield East Bengals (16-15) finished the regular season with a 12-15 record, which resulted in a lowly No.13 seed in the Sectional 6 complex.

A No.13 seed with a 12-15 record advancing to the IHSA Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional would be considered a Cinderella story on the East Side of Plainfield.

Not so fast.

The Bengals showed they were more like a rising young debutant than the lowly rags-to-riches Cinderella.

East opened the tournament by dispatching the 19-7, Southwest Prairie West champion Oswego, next it defeated District 202 rivals, the 18-11 Plainfield Central Wildcats, to win the Class 4A Plainfield Central Regional Championship.

In the Yorkville Sectional semifinal, the Bengals scored four runs in the top of the seventh to defeat the 14-16 Neuqua Valley Wildcats on Wednesday in Naperville.

What they did on Friday in the Class 4A Yorkville Sectional championship game against the hosts from Yorkville (17-14) will forever remove the Cinderella label.

Trailing the host Foxes 8-3, the sectional championship game moved to the top of the seventh.

Yorkville starting pitcher junior Connor Corrigan, who had allowed three runs, two earned, and five his in his six quality innings of work on the mound, was replaced by senior Ryan Shimp (0 IP, 4R, 1H, 2ER, 2BB).

Bengals' No. 9 hitter, senior Caden Dyhr, reached on a Yorkville error.

Sophomore Brady Louck then hammered a two-run homer, his first of the season, to pull the Bengals within 8-5.

"We were confident we could come back and I had to get things started," Louck said. "It felt good to hit my first home run of the year."

Senior catcher Mike Bailey walked, junior Christian Mitchelle (1-for-3, 2RBI) reached on another Yorkville error, and junior Jake Eaton walked to load the bases.

Re-enter Yorkville starting pitcher Corrigan.

With the re-entry rule in high school baseball, a rare situation would allow Corrigan to save his own victory if he closed out the game.

Corrigan could not.

Senior Ryan Skiba greeted Corrigan with an RBI single, which reloaded the bases and pulled the Bengals to within 8-6.

"My approach to the plate was to just take the ball up the middle and keep the line moving," Skiba said.

Junior Jake Denton was next and ripped a two-run double to tie the game at 8-8.

"I just went up to the plate and wanted to hit the ball hard and get the runs in," Denton said. "It felt great to crush the ball and get the game tied."

Corrigan then got the first out of the inning.

Plainfield East coach Adam O'Reel, went to his bench and called on senior Jake Handley.

Handley crushed a Corrrigan pitch that hit the centerfield fence on a fly, scoring Skiba and Denton and the Bengals led 10-8.

"It was a complete team effort in the seventh," Handley said. "Brady and Ryan got it started and when Jake tied the game with his two-run double, I was confident I would come through."

Corrigan was removed and Yorkville reliever Ryan Buck entered. Louck picked up his second hit and third RBI of the inning with an RBI single that scored Handley for an 11-8 Bengal lead.

After replacing Bengal senior starting pitcher Gavin Schmitt (4 1/3, 6R, 5H, 4ER, 7K, 3BB) in the fifth, senior Reid Erickson (2 2/3, 2R, 5H, 2ER, 3K, 2BB) went to the mound to finish off the Foxes.

Erickson gave up a one-out single and then ended the unbelievable game with a flourish by striking out the last two Yorkville hitters.

The IHSA Class 4A Yorkville Sectional championship is the first sectional championship in Plainfield East baseball history.

With the win, the Bengals advance to the IHSA Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional to take on the Chicago Catholic League Blue champions from Brother Rice (28-10). The Crusaders defeated Hinsdale Central 6-2 to win the Class 4A Brother Rice Sectional Championship.

The game will be played at Ozinga Field in Crestwood, the home of the Frontier League's Windy City Thunderbolts, on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

The sectional title game had everything, including a 45-minute lightning delay halting play in the top of the second with the scored tied at 1-1.

Eason put the Bengals up 1-0 with an RBI scoring Mitchelle, who had singled, in the top of the first.

Yorkville picked up unearned runs in the bottom of the first and second innings to grab a 2-1 lead, which they would hold until the top of the fifth.

Mitchelle tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI double, and an RBI groundout from Eason gave the Bengals a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the fifth.

Yorkville knocked Schmitt out and scored four runs to open a 6-3 lead after five innings. The Foxes added two runs in the sixth to open up the seeming insurmountable 8-3 lead after six innings.

"We battled all year," Plainfield East associate coach Ken Holowczak said. "We figured it out late in the year and are on this roll. Everybody has contributed for us throughout the season. This has been a complete team effort."

"This is another example of this insane season of how we have fought back all season," East coach Adam O' Reel said. "This is what the kids told me they do. It's a credit to them that they never will give up. Reid Erickson kept us in it and finished off the game to pick up the win on the mound. This post season, this group has just taken up the mantle for the school and taken us to where we have never been before. I want to thank all our coaches and look at all our fans who are out here today. I'm out of words."

"Jake Handley is a pilot and he was involved in a lot of things and was slow to really get started in showing us he could do. Jake has improved as the season has come along. On to the Crestwood Supersectional and Brother Rice."


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