MAHOMET — Nic DiFilippo had an inkling that Kobe Essien was going to be good. His junior hurler had the stuff. With a fastball that could hit 88 miles per hour, and a nasty offspeed pitch, Essien had all the ingredients to become a dominant pitcher in the Apollo Conference.
The only missing piece was consistent control, and Essien has started to find it. The junior fired a no-hitter in the victory over Tri-Valley on May 10 to showcase his ceiling, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
M-S is getting ready to dive into a tough regional, and if Essien is pitching at the top of his game, he could earn the start with the season on the line.
M-S 4, Tri-Valley 0. Essien had the game of his life May 10, firing seven hitless innings in a 4-0 victory over Tri-Valley. Essien cruised through all seven innings and finished with just 84 pitches. He scattered four walks and struck out eight Vikings in the win.
M-S only managed six hits, but they plated three runs in the third inning and one in the sixth. Jordan Veldman went 1-for-3 with a double, one run scored and two RBI. Dawson Finch also smacked a double. Jack McHale and Nate McFall both went 1-for-2 with a run scored. Kyle Kinney and Jon Latham both singled, and Ben Greenberger drove in a run.
M-S 3, Charleston 1. The Bulldogs were held to four singles, but they did work on the basepaths, notching six steals, and beat Charleston 3-1. Veldman went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Kyle Kinney singled, walked and drove in a run. Jon Latham singled and drew two free passes. Jake Anderson stole a base and scored a run.
CJ McKinney and Rick Bohlen teamed up to shut down Charleston. McKinney earned the win after 3 ⅔ innings. McKinney allowed four hits and one earned run. He walked four and stuck out three. Bohlen got the save with 3 ⅓ scoreless innings. Bohlen was terrific, allowing just two hits, and he fanned six.
Normal Community 6, M-S 0. Seniors McHale and Finch both singled twice, but Normal Community roughed up Finch for nine hits and six runs in his five innings and cruised to a 6-0 victory. Finch struck out five and walked just one in his outing. Greenberger came in and allowed just two hits in two innings of relief. Greenberger also singled and drew a free pass. Jordan Veldman had the other M-S hit, but the rest of the lineup struck out eight times combined and couldn’t get anything going offensively.
M-S will compete in the Charlie Due Tournament at Champaign Central High School today and Saturday. On Monday, they will begin play in the Class 3A Mahomet-Seymour Regional. M-S is the No. 5 seed, and they will play No. 11 Urbana at 4:30 p.m. With a win, M-S would advance to Wednesday’s regional semifinals against Charleston. The regional championship is set for 3 p.m. May 25. No. 1 seed Champaign Central is the favorite to advance to the championship game, but Mount Zion or Rantoul will both get a chance to knock off the top-seeded Maroons.