South Central made its first appearance in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament since 2011 on Saturday and it proved to be a learning experience.
With a roster of players not familiar to state tournament play and a pair of high schoolers playing key positions, the Storm committed nine errors in the field and made a few baserunning mistakes in an 18-11 loss to Northville at Cadwell Park.
Still, South Central had reason to be encouraged after rallying from a 13-4 deficit to pull within two, before finally running out of gas.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” South Central player-manager Paul Taggart said. “We’ll back tough next year and ready to play some baseball.”
Gregory High School junior-to-be Grant Thomas was placed in the lead-off position in the batting order and started at third base, while classmate Aaron Sundquist started the game at catcher and then eventually pitched an inning of relief.
Rookie amateur player Blake Boes was South Central’s starting pitcher, and while all three players had novice moments, they also made strong plays.
Thomas had a pair of hits, and while Boes gave up three earned runs on eight hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings, he was also 3-for-5 with an RBI at the plate.
“We fought hard,” Taggart said. “We did the best we could. I’m just proud of the guys we brought up here. … It’s our first state tournament and we’ll be back next year.”
Hoffman lends a hand to hometown of Burke
Blake Hoffman was 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for South Central on Saturday, but he had much more on his mind than baseball.
Hoffman, a Burke native, lucky to come away from the tornado that tore through town late Tuesday night.
Rain, hail and wind began to pelt Hoffman’s vehicle while driving home Tuesday, so he pulled into a friend’s house to wait out the storm. When he arrived in Burke, he found the center of town ravaged.
“It didn’t do damage to people’s homes like it could have if it was one block to the right or one block to the left,” Hoffman said. “It went right down Main Street. It tore up that part of town and there are probably 15 houses around town that are torn up enough that they’ll have to tear down and rebuild.”
Hoffman’s home was not one of those damaged, but he feared the worst while driving through town attempting to get to his house, navigating around trees, debris and even parts of homes blown into the street.
“It’s scary, extremely scary,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman is employed at the Majestic Ranch in St. Charles and he and co-workers spent Wednesday aiding the clean-up effort in Burke. He helped clean up the streets and pile wreckage on the sidewalks for city crews to haul away.