Coalers play Monday for a shot at state

The Coal City boys baseball team is one victory away from playing in the Class 3A state finals with Saturday's sectional victory over Joliet Catholic.

The Coalers (34-5) will battle St. Ignatius Chicago (15-9) at 5 p.m. Monday at Standard Bank Stadium in the Crestwood Super Sectional for a shot at playing at Route 66 Stadium in Joliet starting Friday.

Coal City and JCA were tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth when the Coalers broke free to win it 7-3. Starting pitcher Payton Hutchings was again impressive for the Coalers, before Blake Harsheim took over to seal the win in the end.

"I’d give you the numbers, but I am just going to go with Awesome. This group never ceases to amaze me," commented CC coach Greg Wills in a tweet. "Someone different every game does something great to get us a win. I’m humbled to be a part of this. Let’s keep rollin’."

Coal City needs to beat St. Ignatius—8-7 winners over Chicago Brooks in the Brooks Sectional—to reach the finals for the first time in 10 years when they ended up fourth in Class 2A under coach Jerry McDowell who retired last year. The only other year the Coalers qualified for state was in 2002 when they were defeated in the first round.

St. Ignatius can be explosive, scoring eight runs in the top of the seventh inning against Brooks. But they also give up runs as Brooks threatened with seven runs scored in their final at-bat.

If, or beter when, the Coalers beat the Wolfpack in the Super Sectional, they will settle in Joliet Friday at noon at Route 66 Stadium against the winner of the Sauget Super Sectional contest between Troy (Triad) and Chatham Glenwood. The Coalers played on the new turf at Route 66 Stadium earlier this season when they handily beat Reed-Custer.

For Coach Wills and his team, they would like nothing better than to return to Joliet.

A noon victory Friday would mean the Coalers would play for the Championship Saturday at 11 a.m. If they lose on Friday they would play at 9 a.m. Saturday to decide who earns the third place state trophy.