Sports

Worthington delivers perfect ending as Missouri beats Illinois

Hannibal's Gabe Worthington, right, throws the ball to first base as teammate Koy Smith looks on during Saturday's Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star baseball game at Veteran's Field in Hannibal.
Mathew Kirby/Courier-Post
By Mat Mikesell, Hannibal Courier-Post Sports Editor
Posted: Jul. 13, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Jul. 13, 2019 11:23 pm

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The bucket of water Gabe Worthington got dumped on his head Saturday night was appreciated.
It was a fitting way to celebrate a near storybook ending to a prep baseball career.
Playing his final baseball game at Veteran’s Field where he played four seasons with the Hannibal baseball team, Worthington ripped a two-out walk-off single down the left field line to lift Missouri to an 11-10 victory in the Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star baseball game. He was mobbed by his teammates near first base, and had the jug full of water dumped on him during the celebration.
Worthington admitted he ran the scenario through his head when he dug into the batter’s box, but it was an ending even he couldn’t predict.
“I was in front of my hometown fans and representing my state,” Worthington said. “I don’t know how to describe it. Everything was put together perfectly for me.”
Missouri coach Ian Hatton, who coached Worthington at Hannibal the last two years, wasn’t surprised he came through.
“The coaches we were joking that if (Centralia’s Gus Stidham) got on base in front of him, that’s how the game was going to end,” Hatton said. “That’s been the story for him the last couple years. He really deserved that moment.”
Missouri, who picked up their third victory in the seventh annual game, needed to rally after Illinois did to tie the game.
Missouri led 9-6 after six innings, but Illinois tied the game with three runs in the top of the seventh. Illini West’s Nick Vorhies ripped an RBI single to score Quincy High School’s Kade Zanger. An error allowed Liberty’s Cole Hanlin to score before West Hancock’s Korey VanFleet ripped an RBI single to right to tie the game.
Missouri answered with a run in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Palmyra’s Caden Power that scored Worthington, but Illinois tied the game again on an RBI single by Pittsfield’s Isaac Shaw.
Highland’s Hunter Florea retired Illinois in the ninth. Central’s Eric Jones retired Missouri’s first two hitters of the ninth inning in Clark County’s Grant Plenge and Palmyra’s Peyton Abbott, but Stidham roped a double into right that set up Worthington’s heroics.
The 21 combined runs were the most in the game’s history.
“I just knew I had to capitalize on it,” said Worthington, who was named Missouri’s Most Valuable Player. “I couldn’t waste it.”
Illinois, however, struck first.
Shaw got Illinois on the board in the second inning with an RBI triple that scored Central’s Kollen Hughes all the way from first base. Shaw, who was named Illinois’ Most Valuable Player, scored on Jones’ RBI groundout, which made it 2-0.
Illinois took a 4-0 lead after Unity’s Luke Jansen scored on a double steal, and Quincy Notre Dame’s Dylan Foley scored on a sacrifice fly from Unity’s Logan Voth.
“We just had a bunch of competitors,” Illinois and Pittsfield coach John Schultz said. “It didn’t matter if they were playing checkers. There wasn’t a lot of rah-rah needed to get them going.”
Missouri scored in the third on an RBI groundout by North Shelby’s Mason Uhlmeyer before erupting for five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
One run scored on a bases-loaded walk before another scored on a fielder’s choice and an error on the same play. Another error two batters later gave Missouri a 5-4 lead, and it was 6-4 after Uhlmeyer’s sacrifice fly.
“We just kept our heads up (after Illinois took the lead),” Worthington said. “We just played together as a team.”

In Case You Missed It

Immanuel Lutheran Church celebrating 150 year anniversary
The theme for the 150th anniversary of Immanuel Lutheran Church, West Ely, is 1 Peter 1:25 — “But the word of the Lord endures forever”