SAUGET -- Jackson Goeckner just had a feeling.

The Teutopolis junior had a hunch there was going to be a wild pitch and when the throw actually skipped by the catcher, he instantly flew down the third-base line.

Goeckner dove head first and safely sled home for the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs, and Teutopolis prevailed 4-3 over Nashville in the Class 2A Sauget Super-sectional on Monday.

The Shoes (29-6) will return to the state finals for the 11th time in program history against Orion on Friday in Peoria's Dozer Park.

"Right when I got into the dirt, I knew how to get in there and once I slid and jumped in the air, I was like, 'hell yeah'," Goeckner said. "I knew once we scored that run Brock (Bueker) was going to hold them in the last inning.

"We're on our way to state."

That final run unfolded in the most unexpected way.

Nashville reliever Brogan Kemp discarded the first two batters in the sixth with a pop out and ground out. Then came two errors.

Teutopolis catcher Cody Jansen first slapped a grounder to third base that was nicely scooped up but the throw eluded the first baseman's glove.

Another bungled ground ball loaded up the bases for Brant Bueker.

All he had to do was step up to the plate.

Kemp's first delivery hopped through the catcher's legs and carried to the backstop for the courtesy runner Goeckner, who filled in for Jansen like he had done all year.

Teutopolis never had a base hit in the sixth.

"Our guys came through when the opportunity was given to them," Teutopolis coach Justin Fleener said. "They made the most out of the situation that they were in."

The Shoes couldn't catch any breaks in the last year's 8-7 super-sectional loss against Murphysboro in Sauget and it started out like last time.

Nashville starting pitcher Ryan Brink crushed a 3-run homer over the left field wall against starting pitcher Lane Belleville while a storm brewed around GCS Ballpark.

They reversed roles this time and gradually chipped away at the 3-0 deficit.

Belleville (7-0) only gave up four hits the rest of the evening and struck out eight in six innings.

He was later doused by a well-earned Gatorade shower during the interview.

"It cost me, but after that I think it helped me focus a little bit more and I got my pitches located better," Belleville said of the Brink homer. "If I got ahead with my fastball, I could come back with my off-speed. Later on in the innings, I got my off-speed working a lot better and got them to chase more. That's what really helped me out most."

He wasn't disrupted by a strong thunderstorm that delayed the game in the top of third for more than 30 minutes with the score still 3-0.

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In fact, Tetuopolis senior Brock Bueker fueled the rest of the team with a pep talk during the lull, not unlike Jason Heyward in Game 7 of the World Series.

"We were looking a little dead out there after that three-run home run from that kid," Brock said. "I think that rain delay did us some good. I came in there and told our boys to get in a circle and talk. That got the seniors all pumped up and I think that's what got the guys to come out and let us get hits going.

"I think that was big for us. We've been here before. We've been down. We've scored more than three runs. I knew we were just getting started."

They quickly responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. Eric Kremer ripped the first RBI-single to left field and later Brant Bueker came through with a RBI-single that ricocheted off Brink's leg on the mound and leaked into the outfield.

Jansen knotted the game 3-3 in the fourth with an RBI single that bounced off a diving second baseman.

"We just knew we had to get one or two every inning and just try to chip at it," Jansen said. "Belleville had a heck of a game. He really came back after that first inning and settled in. I think that was a really good job on his part really locking down and keeping them in check.

"We knew what happened (last year) and everyone still felt it. We saw some players here from last year. To be on the other side is a lot better than last year, I can tell you that."

Bill's take

Nice saves

Nashville centerfielder Hayden Heggemeier robbed Belleville a hit and Teutopolis several runs with a spectacular diving catch at the warning track in the fourth with two outs.

It surely kept Brink, the starting pitcher, in the game. He lasted four innings with six strikeouts, four hits and two earned runs for a no decision.

He also finished 3-for-3 at the plate.

"Ryan Brink was really good," said Nashville coach Chad Malawy, whose team ended 30-7. "He didn't take the loss today. He pitched on short rest and came out with the score 3-3. He's 10-0 on the year and he was an outstanding senior. I love him and we're going to miss him. I think we started seven seniors today. We're going to miss all of those guys."

Teutopolis shortstop Carson Hartke made an equally clutch save in the fifth.

He leaped and snagged a soft liner with a runner on second base with two outs.

"That was definitely one of the plays of the game there," Belleville said.

Holding on

Brock Bueker replaced Belleville in the seventh and picked up the save, not without some drama.

Teutopolis nearly turned a double play to end the game on a bunt, but Nashville runner Jake Heck barely beat the the throw at third base.

Brock kept his composure and forced an easy chopper to the second baseman Jason Kenter to clinch the state berth.

"When the call doesn't go your way, you're never happy," he said. "But I knew we'd have them on the next batter. I had a really good feeling when that kid came up we'd get him out--no worries."

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Sports Writer

Sports Writer for the Herald & Review

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