The Western Big 6 Conference baseball title will be decided on the final weekend, too.|
Defending champ Moline (16-7) and perennial contender Galesburg (20-6) both have matching 6-2 marks in league play.
However, both face challenging doubleheaders today with the Maroons at pitching-rich United Township (14-11, 4-4 Big 6) and Galesburg welcoming fellow title-contender Alleman (19-9, 5-3).
"Whoever said we have an easier matchup, I strongly disagree,'' said Craig Schimmel, Moline's rookie head coach after a lengthy stint as an assistant in a program that has won 10 titles since 1994. "Before the year started, I really thought Alleman and United Township would be playing for the league championship. UT has two Saturday-quality starters that can beat anybody.''
Alleman can attest to that, having split with the Panthers just last weekend. UT starters John Dokolas (2.72) and Connor Gunneman (2.42) both sport ERAs that are among the league's best.
"We've been working on cutting our strikeouts down this week,'' Schimmel said. "We struck out 12 times against Normal West, 11 times against (Machesney Park) Harlem and eight or nine times versus Galesburg. And those are games we didn't win. So we have to put the ball in play if we want to compete.''
If Moline splits and Alleman sweeps, the league crown will be split three ways for the first time since the Big 6 started playing baseball in 1970.
A Moline sweep assures the Maroons of no worse than a title share.
"It's a crazy deal,'' said Alleman coach Chris Lemon. "We can go from first to finishing fourth depending on what happens.''
Alleman last won the Big 6 crown in 2004 during Lemon's first tour of duty heading up the Pioneers program. Galesburg's title drought extends to 1993.
"We still have a shot. But we need help,'' Lemon said. "We also know we have a formidable foe, especially in Game 1, against a pitcher (Galesburg's Tim Rossell) who has allowed one earned run this season (in Big 6 play).
"We've addressed what's going on. But all we can do is try and take care of our own business and win two games.''
Milan, IL Details
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