MORTON — When Parker Mathieson drove a 2-2 pitch over the fence in right-center field in the seventh inning, University High School's baseball team still had a chance.

"I had to do whatever I could for the team and take everything one pitch at a time," said Mathieson. "I had to execute the best I could and help out the guy behind me to give him the best opportunity."

Connor Aten didn't let that feeling last long.

Galesburg's standout righthander struck out the final two Pioneer batters. That gave Aten 12 for the game as the Silver Streaks edged U High, 3-2, in a Class 3A Morton Sectional semifinal Wednesday at Westwood Park.

U High ended with a 28-9 record. Galesburg (29-7) advanced to Saturday's championship game against Dunlap (26-5).

Aten, who has committed to Bradley, gave up three hits in the first two innings. U High took a 1-0 lead in the second as MacCallan Conklin doubled and Karson Bonaparte drove him in with a single.

But the next four innings, the Pioneers couldn't get a hit off Aten.

"He really started commanding his breaking ball," said U High coach Steve Paxon. "His high fastball gave us problems. We had such a difficult time laying off the elevated fastball."

Galesburg took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on two pitches by U High's Jack Feely (5-2). Aten led off with a double and Noah Matheny followed with a home run to left-center field.

"One of the things we as a coaching staff continue to stress to them is to be aggressive and they were," said Galesburg coach Jeremy Pickrel. "He (Feely) was in the zone and they were aggressive on those pitches."

After Galesburg got the next two batters on, Jack Sauser relieved Feely. Sauser got out of the jam with two strikeouts and a pick-off. Galesburg upped its lead to 3-1 in the fifth as Tyler Steck, who had three hits, scored on Aten's infield single.

Jacob Mote was hit by a pitch to start the sixth for U High, but was wiped out on a double play. Mathieson ended the Pioneers' hitless drought, but Aten regrouped for the last two outs. 

"That was a good pitcher. He just won more battles than we did, simple as that," said Mathieson. "He was competitive and we were competitive. He just executed more than we did."

Paxson knew it was difficult to see Mathieson, Nate Hardman, Sauser and Paul Africano in their final games in a U High uniform.

"I hate to see this senior class go," said Paxson. "They're such a good group of guys, classy guys who work really hard not just in baseball but everything they do. They're great students and leaders in our school."

Galesburg finished with nine hits off four U High pitchers.

"That's a quality team over there. We knew we had to play our best baseball and we did. We showed up to play," said Pickrel. "It starts with the guy on the bump (Aten). They got the run early, but he didn't let it faze him. We kept with it and got the job done offensively."

Dunlap 2, Lincoln 1: Taylor Catton, another Bradley recruit, outdueled Nate Arnold as Dunlap used a pair of unearned runs in the third to slip past the Railsplitters in the other semifinal.

Arnold's run-scoring single in the fifth cut Dunlap's lead in half. However, Lincoln (21-15) left the bases loaded and Catton got the last six outs to secure the win with the game ending on a double play.  

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Contact Jim Benson at (309) 820-3404. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Benson



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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