Mt. Vernon Register-News

June 3, 2014

Hines Sight: Webber's wild ride playoff run takes Trojans to Peoria

By Paul Hines


Seven days ago, Webber's baseball season was teetering on a figurative knife edge.

The Trojans found themselves playing in extra innings in the sectional semifinal. It was Webber's second straight extra inning game in the playoffs already.

Once again, the season became extremely simple. It would end in the next few minutes or the Trojans could march on.

Webber's game a week ago against Goreville was a marathon by any high school standards. It lasted nearly three and half hours. The matchup was also the second game of the day, which put the finishing time around 10:30 p.m. at night.

The bottom line was the Trojans marched on.

Goreville was playing without its head coach, who had been ejected arguing a called third strike in the sixth inning. Webber scored five times in the top of the eight inning to claim a commanding 10-5 edge. The cushion was enough for the Trojans to win.

The victory flung Webber into uncharted territory.

They haven't even glanced back since.

Behind the big bat of Mark Knepler the Trojans rolled up a 4-0 lead early against Shawnee in the sectional final. The advantage had doubled by the sixth inning, and Webber held on for an 8-4 win. The victory gave the baseball program its first sectional crown.

Monday night, Webber continued its baseball tour of Southern Illinois with a trip to Marion and a super sectional tilt with Windsor/Stew-Stras. Windsor played in the same game a season ago. The victor would punch its ticket to the state final in Peoria.

Once again, Webber found a way to win.

Logan Ganieany battled through a 40-pitch third inning that saw him face 10 batters and surrender four runs. Ganieany fought back to end the inning and allowed just two runs the rest of the game, hurling a complete game. He also had four hits and three RBI in the game to help his cause.


Postgame tradition


Drenching a victorious coach in cold water from the Gatorade bucket has rich roots that are decades old in the world of sports.

Webber pulled off the postgame prank with perfection on Monday night at Marion's Rent One Park. A pair of crafty players snuck up behind Webber coach Sam Root while he was distracted making comments to area media.

The water and ice successfully soaked Root, igniting a new round of celebration among the Trojan fans and players.


Hot hitting


Mark Knepler might be the hottest No. 8 hitter in the state of Illinois this postseason.

Knepler had Webber's game-winning hit in the regional final. He also provided a grand slam in the sectional final.

He has 11 hits in 16 postseason at-bats this year. He also has three walks in the five playoff games.


Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.