By Paul Hines
WOODLAWN — Steeleville had the momentum, and Webber's baseball team took it all away.
Webber trailed Steeleville 3-0 early in Saturday's 1A regional final but rallied for a 5-4 victory in eight innings. The victory marks Webber's second straight regional crown.
“(We) really never had the big hit with runners on base all day until we had the last two there at the end,” Webber coach Sam Root said.
After chipping away at the Steeleville lead, Webber trailed 4-3 entering their final at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. Zane Austin led off the inning with a single for Webber. He moved to second after Gage Raudenbush's one out single. Austin took third after the bouncing single skipped past the Steeleville right fielder. Lane Moser followed with a ground ball to the shortstop. Austin broke for home but was thrown out at the plate.
With two outs, Jordan Wheeler stood at the plate. Wheeler started the game on the mound and lasted two innings. He left the game with Webber down 4-1. Wheeler found himself down to his final strike before he delivered a hit to drive home Raudenbush and tie the game at 4-4.
“I just stayed head strong and fought,” Wheeler said.
Lane Moser, who relieved Wheeler on the mound and pitched six shutout innings, blanked Steeleville in the top of the eighth.
“I tried to hit my spots, and that's what you have to do,” Moser said. “You have to hit the spots, keep the ball low.”
Webber immediately put pressure back on Steeleville. Michael Gartin opened the frame with a walk and was removed for pinch runner Dylan Burrell. The pinch runner Burrell stole second with Mark Knepler at the plate. Knepler delivered one of his three singles and Burrell raced home with the game-winning run.
“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball, advance the runner,” Knepler said.
Steeleville jumped out to the early advantage with a trio of runs in the first two innings. Webber responded after Knepler's first RBI in the bottom of the second. Steeleville got the run back with a solo homer to left field in the third inning.
Webber sliced away at the deficit starting in the fourth. Gartin knocked an RBI single to left to make the score 4-2.
“Really our bottom of the order kind of carried us today,” Root said.
Moser blooped a single to center that drove in another run and close the gap to 4-3.
Webber travels to the Cobden sectional for a semifinal game at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Goreville. The Trojans are 18-9 this season.