PEORIA – In years to come, the end result is what will be remembered most.
At the end of a strange weekend on the baseball field, Westmont brought home a third place trophy from the state finals. The Sentinels' third place finish in Class 2A was anything but textbook, but it still goes down as a third place finish.
"Saturday was a rough day, just sitting around because of the weather, and it was really hard to keep [the kids] positive," Westmont head coach D.J. Cocks said. "We told them it was a once in a lifetime thing – hopefully not, but you never know – and regardless of what happened we had to realize what we accomplished.
"Third place is better than fourth place, and it's going to be there permanently."
The Sentinels (27-8-2) actually took third place without fielding a ground ball, making a pitch or stepping into the batter's box. Poor weather and field conditions at Dozer Park canceled the third place game, and Illinois High School Association rules stipulate that when a state third-place game cannot be played, both teams earn third-place trophies.
Westmont won a coin toss against Freeburg and came home with the third place trophy in tow.
After a 6-2 loss against Byron in a state semifinal on Friday, the Sentinels wanted one more chance to take the field and rebound from the defeat, but Mother Nature had other plans. With rain in the forecast, the IHSA flipped the start times for the championship and third place games. The title game went into a lengthy rain delay before being called.
"About the sixth inning of the championship game the rain started coming down like crazy, and from that point until like 4:30 a.m. it did not stop," Cocks said. "All in all, the trip was not how we drew it up, but third place is third place and we'll take it."
Westmont jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Byron, but the Tigers scored three times in the fourth and three more times in the sixth to secure the win.
Zach Moran laced a one-out single in the Sentinels' half of the first and later came around to score on Tommy Franczak's single. Moran reached on an error to start the third and eventually came home on John Kelly's groundout.
A pair of balks helped Byron tie the game in the fourth. A balk and a wild pitch helped start the Tigers' rally in the sixth.
"It was hard to lose a game like that and have regrets about how close we came taking the whole thing, but when we eventually sit back and reflect on what happened, the kids will realize what they did," Cocks said. "They did something amazing that the high school and the community will never forget.
"It was a special group and a special season. It was the best experience I've ever had with a high school team. I'm so proud of what they accomplished."
Byron 6, Westmont 2
Westmont top performers
• Zach Moran: 2-for-3, 2 R
• Tommy Franczak: 1-for-3, RBI
• Charlie Donovan: 1-for-3
• Adam Berg: 1-for-3
• John Kelly: RBI