It’ll be Mississippi Valley Conference rivals Civic Memorial and Jersey tangling for the championship of the Highland Class 3A Baseball Regional.
The 20-10 Eagles outlasted Triad, 10-8, on Wednesday at Highland’s Glik Park, while the 23-12 Panthers ousted the host Bulldogs, 11-4.
So CM and Jersey will clash at 11 a.m. Saturday for the right to advance to next week’s Triad Sectional. The Eagles have defeated the Panthers twice — 3-1 and 4-3 — in MVC play this season.
CM needed everything in its arsenal to eliminate 15-20 Triad. The Eagles led 5-0 in the second inning and 8-4 by the fourth before the Knights knotted it at 8-8 in the top of the sixth.
But Jansen Helmkamp came to the Eagles’ rescue. Helmkamp, who was 3-for-3, drove in two runs and reached base four times, stroked a key double in a two-run sixth. Cory Howard added a run-scoring single and Caleb Buhs chipped in with a sacrifice fly.
“I was seeing it well,” Helmkamp said of his hitting heroics.
Buhs provided a three-run triple in CM’s four-run first inning.
“That’s the biggest hit I’ve had this season,” Buhs said.
CM coach Gary Bruening added, “That was really a big hit at the time. But Triad kept battling and battling and when it was 8-8, it was anybody’s game.”
Helmkamp brought some clarity to it, specifically when he pitched the final 1.2 innings to secure the win. He was the fourth CM pitcher. Starter Brett Beckham worked the first four innings.
“Jansen has been throwing the ball well for us all season,” Bruening said.
Helmkamp added, “Coach always tells me to be ready to come in and close the door.”
The Eagles made the most of seven hits. They benefited from seven walks, a hit batter and two Triad errors. Matt Mersinger, Dalton Johnson and Aaron Niehaus of the Knights all had three hits. Niehaus drove in three runs.
Jersey also got timely hitting in beating Highland for the first time this season and closing out the Bulldogs at 20-14.
Kyle Obertino led the way by going 4-for-4 with four RBIs. He delivered a two-run single in the fourth and another two-run single in the fifth. Brendan Kennedy contributed three hits to back winning pitcher Crick Kimble.
The Panthers’ six-run fifth inning basically put the finishing touches on their victory.
“We haven’t played well against Highland — and it seems like it has been forever — but we put the ball in play tonight,” Jersey coach Darren Perdun said. “We were relentless and took advantage of things.”
Perdun credited Obertino with stirring the attack.
“He has been mentally tough all season and probably our most consistent hitter,” Perdun said.
Obertino said, “This game was probably my best one of the season. We have a really good hitting team and we gave it our all.”
Now, it’s another conference showdown for a regional championship. CM last won a regional title in 2004. Jersey hasn’t won one since 2003.
“It’s that good of a conference,” Perdun said of the heated competition.
Parity is the name of the game. Mascoutah won the Valley title by going 8-2 in it. CM finished 5-5; Jersey was 4-6.
Obertino noted, “We have a pretty good conference.”
Warrensburg-Latham Class 2A Regional — The Gillespie-Pleasant Plains game was suspended by rain in the first inning and will resume Thursday at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield. It will get going at 4:30..
Meanwhile, Roxana’s game against Williamsville has been reset for 7 p.m. Thursday, also at Lincoln Land College. The regional championship game will be played Saturday at Lincoln Land.
Edwardsville Regional – Alton walloped Quincy, 11-2, and Edwardsville pounded Granite City, 22-0, in five innings during Class 4A semifinals.
The 26-10 Redbirds and 33-3 Tigers will battle at 11 a.m. Saturday for the regional championship. They divided a pair of Southwestern Conference games this season. Edwardsville went 12-2 in league play to finish one game ahead of O’Fallon.
Haley Longo drove in three runs and Georgia Dodson had two more in Alton’s lopsided win. The Redbirds erupted for six runs in the fourth inning to turn things into a rout.
Morgan Butler pitched the first four innings and Brittany Roady hurled the last three for the Redbirds. Edwardsville scored 12 runs in the first inning to set the tone for its runaway victory.
Triad Regional — Highland ousted Jersey, 4-2, to get a date in Saturday’s 3A regional title game at Troy. The Bulldogs will play 8-23 Civic Memorial, which upset top-seeded Triad, the host school, on Tuesday.
Saturday’s game time is 10 a.m., or one hour earlier than originally scheduled.
Jersey finished 17-16, the most softball wins in school history. Highland is 19-10.