Prep pulse: June 4, 2018

Prep pulse: June 4, 2018

When Tuscola senior Cale Sementi induced a seventh-inning flyout from Herscher junior Reece Harrod in Saturday's Class 2A state baseball third-place game, the 2017-18 high school sports campaign ended for The News-Gazette's coverage area.

The Warriors, along with the Argenta-Oreana softball squad earlier Saturday, notched a top-three finish on the biggest stage in Illinois prep athletics to cap a season filled with impressive local performances.

But let's stick with the Friday-Saturday jaunt in Peoria, which was filled with twists and turns from my perspective.

Things started off easy enough, as A-O softball was tasked with facing Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg in the second Class 1A state semifinal tilt. The Bombers put up a fight, but ultimately fell 5-3 to the eventual champions.

That contest started right on time — 12:30 p.m. at East Peoria's EastSide Centre. The same could not be said for Tuscola baseball's weekend-opening event.

The Warriors and Spring Valley Hall were pitted in the last of four baseball games to take place Friady at Peoria's Dozer Park. When the first game — a 1A affair between Aurora Christian and Ottawa Marquette — lasted just shy of three hours, Tuscola fans knew they were in for a ride.

Their 5 p.m. scheduled start time eventually morphed to 8:15 p.m., but at least the Warriors and Red Devils put on a heck of a show in a 2-1 Hall win over eight innings.

Both A-O and Tuscola bounced back Saturday to snag third place in their respective arenas. For the Bombers, it was their first-ever piece of state hardware. For the Warriors, it was a fine consolation prize for a season in which they expected to take the championship.

But none of the parties involved will soon forget the excitement that surrounded these two ballparks over the weekend.

A-O supporters tried to will their group back from a 5-1 deficit against WSS — and almost did so. Tuscola rooters lived and died with seemingly every pitch in a see-saw semifinal.

Perhaps the best moment for both of these squads was that their seniors got to go out on a high note. They all were among the rare few who get to win their last high school game. You can't put a value on that.

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