Falcon boys feeling 'bound to make a long run'

Falcon boys feeling 'bound to make a long run'

GIBSON CITY — Boys' golf won a regional championship on Oct. 2.

Football followed with a repeat Class 2A state title victory on Nov. 23.

Boys' basketball climbed to third in the 2A scene, hauling in its first-ever state trophy, on March 9.

It's safe to say the Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley baseball players know what they're gunning for when their own 2A postseason tournament begins today, with the top-seeded Falcons (18-4) squaring off against No. 7 Prairie Central (11-13) in a 4:30 p.m. GCMS Regional semifinal game.

"That was always one of our main goals," senior Josh Nuss said. "We saw the other teams win and we said, 'Why can't we?' From the first game, that was our mindset."

It doesn't even end with the Falcon boys, as girls' basketball secured its first regional crown since 2005 earlier this school year, while two individuals and a relay will represent GCMS at this week's girls' track and field state meet.

That's not to mention the third-seeded Falcons softball team, which hosts Tri-Valley at 4:30 p.m. today in a regional semifinal game.

"We've had a lot of success in other sports," said Layne Harden, a senior contributor in baseball and football, "and I feel that we've built a winning culture and just want to make our mark as well."

It feels like almost any GCMS boys' outfit has been destined for greatness in 2018-19, building off the football program's 2A state championship the year prior.

Perhaps that's because there's so much team-to-team crossover among Falcon athletes.

"The good thing about it is ... almost everybody on this team was involved in one of those big runs somewhere," GCMS baseball coach Dustin White said. "It's one of those things, our guys are going in aware this is a special year, and ... we don't want to be the team that comes out and lays an egg."

GCMS's diamond guys haven't done anything of the sort.

They started the campaign 5-0 and boast a six-game win streak as well, in addition to earning a share of the Heart of Illinois Conference title with Tremont.

"This year, things are coming together," Harden said. "Last year, we were really young. We're just able to put more things together this year and come together as a whole."

That youth Harden mentioned, according to White, is a reason Falcon athletics is on the rise of late.

"What we've seen the last few years is we were playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores," White said. "We were competing in ballgames, but not really able to get over the hump. This year ... they're bigger, faster. They're more understanding of what it takes at the varsity level."

In GCMS baseball's case, that means contributions from across the board.

As of The News-Gazette's last statistical update, the Falcons had five players hitting at or above .400, four youngsters between 18 and 20 RBI and two pitchers carrying five or more victories. Yet White, Nuss and Harden all agree that one of the squad's biggest showings in the regular season involved just a single run being scored.

In a 1-0 win over fellow 2A No. 1 seed Eureka on April 17, White witnessed a significant boost in his boys' confidence.

"We didn't score a lot of runs that game, but we put together a lot of good at-bats," Harden said. "When we were fighting against a good team like that, we realized we are a good team this year."

And that's a nice change of pace for GCMS baseball.

Since compiling a 23-11 ledger in 2010, the Falcons haven't finished above .500, bottoming out at 2-22-1 in 2013. They also haven't laid claim to regional hardware since 2006.

One of those elements is guaranteed to change, with GCMS's record where it is now.

The second certainly can this week, and the Falcons are ready to make it a reality.

"We can easily make it out of our regional," Nuss said. "Our sectional, I think we can win and see how far we can go after that. I think we're bound to make a long run."

Sections (3):Baseball, Prep Sports, Sports