Washington stays in top spot

Bryan Veginski
Battling the sun: Washington junior second baseman David Dalfonso looks up to track a pop up he would eventually catch May 14 during the baseball team’s 7-0 win over East Peoria. The Panthers shared the Mid-Illini Conference title with Limestone this spring. Washington opened the postseason May 20 with a visit from Metamora. The winner met Normal West May 21 in Metamora.

Washington successfully defended its 2007 Mid-Illini Conference baseball championship.

With a 7-0 blanking of East Peoria May 14, the Panthers made it back-to-back league crowns.

Washington won its third straight M-I game and shared the title with Limestone with an 11-3 record.

The Rockets won their ninth consecutive conference game the same day, 11-7, over Dunlap.

All of the Panthers’ scoring at Dave Rodgers Field came in the first three innings.

“We were so focused,” WCHS head coach Kevin Brown said about the beginning of the game. “We had great at-bats early.”

The first batter of the game, David Dalfonso was hit by a pitch. After a fielder’s choice, Alex Wilson whacked a two-run home run to left field for a 2-0 advantage.

Marshall Escue (7-1) made the lead hold up, allowing five hits and no walks in a complete-game masterpiece. He fanned four.

Escue, a sophomore, and classmate Ryan Harkins have a combined 10-1 record, helping the Panthers overcome some injuries to their pitching staff.

“Those guys stepped up for us on the mound,” Brown said.

The visitors played flawless defense, keeping East Peoria from putting any rallies together.

Washington tacked on three more runs in the second inning, which Brown said was even more important than the initial strike.

Mike Schwenk doubled leading off and was brought home immediately by Fisher’s RBI single.

After an error, Robert Hodges rapped a run-scoring double to right.

The bases were loaded with no outs when the Raiders set down two straight hitters.

Hayden Shaver increased the margin to 5-0 when he was hit by an East Peoria offering, forcing in a run.

Escue and Schwenk started the third with singles and they both remained in scoring position with two outs.

Hodges came through in the clutch and made the cushion comfortable with a deep two-run double to center.

The Raiders got a baserunner aboard in each of the last four innings, but never seriously threatened.

In the sixth, Escue induced EP’s No. 3 batter, Bryce Donaldson, to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

Schwenk and Hodges both were 2-for-3, giving the lower-half of the order a jolt.

The Panthers performed admirably on the road with a championship on the line.

“Not a lot of guys have been in games like this,” said Brown.

In the starting line-up, only Wilson, Shaver, Schwenk and Fisher were regulars on last year’s Class AA third-place state finisher.

WCHS 5, Richwoods 1: The Panthers closed the regular season with a home win Friday.

Washington (23-11) won for the fifth outing in a row as all of its runs came in the sixth inning.

Wilson was 3-for-3 with two doubles and Shaver drove in three runs and cracked a two-base hit.

Schwenk and Fisher also responded with RBI in the big inning to make a winner of Ben Worner.

Worner (8-1) struck out one and walked one before turning the ball over to Fisher in the seventh.

The Knights won the Mid-State 6 Conference championship.