EUREKA – On a picturesque day at Henry Sand Field, the Eureka baseball team honored its seniors and concluded the 2019 campaign with a pair of wins over Knox on Sunday.
First, the Red Devils grinded out a 6-5 win in the opener that ended on a throw-out at the plate from left fielder Braxten Ary (Green Valley, Ill./Midwest Central) to catcher Dean Moir (Coal City, Ill./Coal City).
Then, they took what they were given in an 11-6 game to complete the three-game season sweep over the Prairie Fire. In April, EC beat Knox 10-4 on the road.
In his final series as a Red Devil, senior Sean Green (Peoria, Ill./Limestone) hit a home run, tripled and swiped five bases. With 29 stolen bases on the season, Green surpassed Dan Askew (25 in 2003) for most stolen bases in a single season by a Red Devil in the modern era. He concludes his career with 46 in 61 games.
In between games, Green, Thomas Harrison (Bushnell, Ill./Bushnell-Prairie City) , Grant Mullin (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita), Brandon Porter (Manhattan, Ill./Lincoln Way Central), Joe Quinn (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) and Jeremy Sinople (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) were recognized for all they've done to help the program grow in their time at EC.
Eureka finished the season 16-20, marking the first time the program has reached 16 wins since 2010 and only the second time since 2000. Despite a slew of season-ending injuries, the Red Devils were in the majority of the games they played this season and put themselves in position to finish over .500.
"I thought our team progressed extremely well," second-year EC coach Jerry Rashid said. "I thought we fought through a lot of adversity, and ended up with an improved season from the year before and continued the process of getting better each time."
Game 1: Eureka 6, Knox 5
In Game 1, the Red Devils got the bats going early, driving in four runs on five hits in the first two innings.
Ary put the Red Devils on the board with a sac fly RBI that scored Mike Redmond (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita), and Jake Carter (Carlinville, Ill./Carlinville) brought home Moir on an RBI double in the first.
Quinn scored on a wild pitch, and Drew Thoele's (Teutopolis, Ill./Teutopolis) RBI single made it 4-0 in the second.
Knox trimmed the lead in half in the fourth, but the Red Devils got one back in the bottom half on a Thoele RBI groundout that scored Green.
Then, when the Prairie Fire tied the game with a three-run rally in the sixth, a Thoele fielder's choice gave the home team a one-run edge.
The visitors put one in scoring position in the seventh, but when Knox's Brendan Powers tried to score from second on Dalton James' single to left field, Ary's throw was on line, sealing an EC win.
Mason Diederich (Washington) collected his second win of the year on the mound after taking over for Brock Pettit (Ashland, Ill./A-C Central) to get the last out in the sixth. Gregory Cluskey (East Peoria, Ill./Metamora) came on in the seventh and got the save.
Thoele went 2-for-4 with a team-high three RBIs, while Carter doubled, had two hits and drove in a run.
Game 2: Eureka 11, Knox 6
Green opened Game 2 with a leadoff home run to left-center field to put the Red Devils on the board early once again.
They then tacked on five more runs on three hits, two errors and a couple of wild pitches to make it 6-0.
The Prairie Fire scored their first run on an RBI groundout in the fourth, and EC tacked on two more in the bottom half, with Redmond scoring on an Ary fielder's choice and Diederich drawing a bases-loaded walk.
Knox answered with its most productive inning of the day – a four-run rally on three hits and one EC error.
However, the visitors only scored one more run the rest of the day, while EC added an unearned run in the sixth and scored twice in the seventh.
Green went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases, and Thoele added two more hits and two RBI.
Freshman lefty J.D. Theile (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community) finished the season 5-3, nabbing the win after only giving up one earned run on seven hits and one walk in 6 1/3 innings and striking out five.
Cluskey fanned a pair and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings to wrap up the 2019 baseball season.