CHAMPAIGN — St. Thomas More didn’t have much going through the first four innings of Monday night’s Class 1A baseball regional championship game against Salt Fork. Just two hits and only three total baserunners after Adam Price reached via getting hit by a pitch in the second inning.
Two quick outs in the bottom of the fifth inning had the hosts headed down the same path. Then Patrick Quarnstrom and Dawson Magrini both tripled to start a string of seven straight Sabers reaching base safely, leading to a four-run inning, a 4-1 victory and a regional title.
Third-seeded STM (10-12) now advances to a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday sectional semifinal game at top-seeded Mt. Pulaski (18-1).
The consecutive triples from Quanstrom and Magrini to start STM’s two-out rally in the fifth were followed by back-to-back singles from Cooper Hannagan and Ryan Hendrickson. Then Noah Eyman reached on an error, Price was hit by a pitch again and Will Hoerner drew a bases-loaded walk to cap the scoring burst.
The Sabers’ fifth-inning rally made a winner out of Hannagan, who was the fourth pitcher used against the seventh-seeded Storm (4-12). He threw two scoreless innings of relief and struck out three. Magrini got the save after striking out two in a scoreless, hitless top of the seventh.
Hayden Prunkard paced Salt Fork (4-12), going 3 for 3 at the plate in the loss.
Bearcats prevail. Top-seeded Milford cruised by fourth-seeded Armstrong-Potomac 10-3 to win a regional title at home on Monday.
Leadoff hitter Sawyer Laffoon went 2 for 4 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBI, while Luke McCabe drove in two runs out of the No. 2 spot.
The Bearcats (12-6) will host third-seeded Warrensburg-Latham (20-5) in a 4:30 p.m. Wednesday sectional semifinal.
Kollin Asbury went 3 for 4 to lead A-P (8-12).
Knights stumble. Top-seeded Okaw Valley shut out visiting Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 4-0 in Monday’s regional title game.
Wyatt Hilligoss went 2 for 3 for the fourth-seeded Knights (11-10).
Panthers fall. Second-seeded LeRoy lost 8-4 to No. 3 Warrensburg-Latham on Monday in a regional title game on the Panthers’ home field.
Blake Roundtree had two hits, including a triple, and an RBI for LeRoy (20-7), and Ty Eagan had an RBI double.