FREEBURG — Colin Brueggemann trotted off the mound on June 14 at SIU Carbondale with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
The Freeburg High senior was certain he had just cost his team its season.
"It wasn't the greatest feeling," Brueggemann said.
What greeted him when he got to the dugout wasn't cold shoulders or accusatory glares.
Quite the opposite welcomed Brueggemann — smiles, laughs and a reaffirmed belief that a six-run deficit after one half an inning in a super-sectional playoff wasn't insurmountable.
"They were picking me up and being super helpful," Brueggemann said. "That helped me out a lot."
With his teammates' encouragement behind him, Brueggemann flushed the only bad outing of his season on the mound, picked up his bat and did what he did so often during the 2021 season.
He ripped the cover off the ball.
The Post-Dispatch All-Metro baseball player of the year, Brueggemann was a terror in every way possible as he helped Freeburg win the second state championship in program history and the first since 1989.
Brueggemann led the area in home runs (12), doubles (18) and RBI (60). He scored 47 runs, stole 11 bases and only struck out nine times in 146 plate appearances. He posted a .478 batting average, held an on-base percentage of .521 and slugged .910.
As a pitcher, he was a perfect 9-0 on the mound with a 2.12 ERA in 46 1/3 innings pitched. He collected 47 strikeouts and held a 1.10 WHIP.
"I think he would have put up these stats last year and would have been even more dangerous this year," Freeburg coach Drew Gericke said. "This is only his second year of varsity baseball. You put that experience and knowledge and you never know what will happen."
Brueggemann is the first player to lead the area in home runs, as well as finish in the top four of wins on the mound since Highland's Jake Odorizzi, achieved the same feat in 2008, when he led the Bulldogs to a Class 3A state title. Odorizzi has pitched for five major-league teams since 2012, including an All-Star appearance for the Minnesota Twins in 2019.
But Brueggemann faced a daunting test in the Class 2A Carbondale Super-Sectional when Harrisburg chased him after one inning pitched with six runs, five of them earned, on five hits.
The 6-foot-7 stalwart's response came in the top of the second inning when he slammed a triple to the right-field wall that scored three runs before he raced home on an error.
"We all knew going into the year we'd be a good team," Brueggemann said. "We didn't want to have one bad game or one bad play to decide a season."
Brueggemann drove in a season-high five runs to help Freeburg bounce back from what became a seven-run deficit to beat Harrisburg 15-8.
Four days later, Brueggemann and the Midgets fought past Normal University High 5-3 in a state semifinal and Elmhurst Timothy Christian 12-0 in the championship game.
"He's a kid that does a very good job of handling adversity," Gericke said. "If he strikes out in one at-bat, he's good at forgetting that and moving on. He knows that he won't get a hit every at-bat or strike out everyone. He knows how to move forward."
Brueggemann was great in the regular season and performed even better in the postseason.
In seven do-or-die playoff games, he went 15-for-30 with 15 RBI and picked up two wins in three games pitched in the playoffs. Brueggemann drove in two runs in the semifinal round and then was 3 for 4 in the final with one RBI.
At the moment, he still hasn't decided if he wants to pursue a career on the mound or in the field.
"I feel like I've had a better year at the plate this year," Brueggemann said. "If I keep putting in the work and getting up the velocity, I could have a chance to do two ways because I really love both."
Brueggemann, who only went hitless in three games this season, is signed to play for Johnson County Community College in Overland, Kansas.
Johnson County posted a 43-10 record last season and was no fewer than 38 games in a season since 2013.
"With the dead period and COVID, that didn't help to recruit," Brueggemann said. "But I've always wanted to go the JUCO route because I feel like that's the best fit for me. Going to (a major NCAA Division I school) afterward, that's the goal."
Johnson County has had 15 National Junior College Athletic Association All-Americans, with 13 players selected in the Major League Baseball draft since 2010.
"They're getting a mentally tough kid who will work his butt off," Gericke said. "He won't settle to be mediocre. If he's not doing well, he'll put in the time to change that around. If he's starting and producing, he'll continue to work to be even better. Johnson got a great kid, a great worker and a great baseball player with a great baseball mind. The sky is the limit for him."
2021 All-Metro baseball first team
P: Noah Hargraves, senior, Fort Zumwalt West
Led the Jaguars with 10 victories and helped pitch them to the program’s second state final in the last five years before falling in Class 6 title game. Hargraves pitched 65 innings and picked up four complete games while posting a 1.72 earned run average. He held opponents to just a .185 batting average and collected 80 strikeouts. All-around standout also batted .324 with 10 RBI. Signed with Jefferson College.
P: Nick Moten, senior, Westminster
The University of Arkansas signee was the only area pitcher who didn’t yield an earned run all season. He was the first area pitcher to achieve that feat since St. James’ Evan Grayson in 2017. In 34 1/3 innings, Moten posted a 5-1 record and picked up one complete game while leading the Wildcats in strikeouts with 66. He limited opponents to a .124 batting average and only walked 15. Co-Metro League player of the year.
C: Shea McGahan, senior, Lindbergh
The reliable backstop helped guide the Flyers to the Class 6 quarterfinal round. A University of Missouri signee, McGahan led Lindbergh in batting average (.527), on-base percentage (.636), slugging percentage (.769), runs scored (46), triples (4) and doubles (8). He also hit two home runs and collected 21 RBI while only committing three errors and allowing only three passed balls in 31 games.
IF: Eli Hill, junior, Freeburg
Stalwart at second base who helped the Midgets claim the Class 2A championship, the second state title in program history and first since 1989. He posted a .448 batting average with a .543 on-base percentage while slugging .705. He collected 37 RBI with two home runs, 13 doubles and four triples. He scored 44 times and stole 23 bases without being caught. In 39 games played, he only committed three errors. Verbally committed to Eastern Illinois University.
IF: Eli Hoerner, junior, Freeburg
Shortstop helped Freeburg close the season on a 15-game win streak to claim the Class 2A state championship. Hit for a .448 average and held a .500 on-base percentage with a .655 slugging clip. He scored 39 times and collected 37 RBI with one home run. Also swiped 45 bases and was not caught. In 40 games, only committed three errors. Selected to Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 2A all-state team.
IF: Tanner Perry, senior, Fort Zumwalt West
A standout on the field, on the mound and at the plate, Perry helped the Jaguars to their second state final appearance in five years. He batted .419 with a .538 on-base percentage and slugged .552. He collected 24 RBI and scored 38 runs. The future Jefferson College player also was a stalwart on the mound, going 6-3 with four complete games with a 1.63 ERA in 56 innings pitched. Perry led the Jaguars with 75 strikeouts and limited hitters to a 0.181 batting average. The GAC South Division co-player of the year.
IF: Jack Schark, senior, St. Louis Patriots
A key cog in the machine that won the Home School World Series, Schark was a dominant presence in the lineup as well as on the field for the Patriots. He batted .508, had an on-base percentage of .595 and slugged .815. He led the Patriots in RBI (48), triples (8), home runs (4), doubles (12), stolen bases (42) and runs scored (64). The University of Central Missouri signee only struck out seven times in 160 plate appearances.
OF: John Kramer, senior, Lafayette
The Lancers career home run record holder with 19 finished out his career with a bang. The University of Mississippi recruit tied the school’s single-season home run total with 11. Named Missouri’s Gatorade player of the year, Kramer led Lafayette with 33 RBI and scored 44 times and was tied for the team lead with eight doubles. He posted a .483 batting average with .625 on-base percentage and slugged .977. The dynamic outfielder swiped 11 bases while appearing in eight games on the mound. In 13 2/3 innings pitched, he posted a 1.54 ERA with 14 strikeouts.
OF: Sam Maddox, senior, Francis Howell
Signed with Western Illinois. Also a basketball standout, Maddox helped lead the Vikings to 29 victories, a GAC South Division title and appearance in the Class 6 quarterfinals. He posted a .387 batting average with a .510 on-base percentage. He also slugged .538 and led the Vikings in triples (5) and runs scored (45). Maddox also picked up 30 RBI for a high-powered Howell offense and led the team in stolen bases with 35. A first team Class 6 all-state pick by Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association.
OF: Jackson Rodgers, sophomore, Father McGivney
Helped guide the Griffins to a Class 1A state runner-up appearance in the program’s second season of varsity existence. Posted a .337 batting average, a .518 on-base percentage and slugged .594. He collected 34 RBI and scored 33 times with four triples, 12 doubles and two home runs. He also was a nightmare for hitters on the mound. In 52 innings pitched he held a .94 ERA. He was one of two area pitchers to post nine victories as well as 90 or more strikeouts. He held opponents to a .147 batting average.
U: Connor Throneberry, senior, Marquette
Penn State signee did a little bit of everything for the Mustangs on the way to a Class 6 district final. Throneberry posted a .385 batting average, .491 on-base percentage and slugged .725. He led Marquette with seven home runs and drove in 27. He picked up eight doubles and scored 26 times. On the mound, he posted a 6-2 record with a 1.91 ERA in 51 1/3 innings pitched. He picked up five complete games and led Marquette with 63 strikeouts.
2021 All-Metro baseball second team
P: Jackson Holmes, senior, Columbia
Signed with St. Louis University. Posted an 8-1 record with a 1.30 ERA in 48 1/3 innings pitched. Pitched four complete games and struck out 68 batters and limited hitters to a .147 batting average. Also hit .348 with three home runs, 18 RBI and scored 24 times as Columbia reached Class 2A sectional final.
P: Josh Newell, junior, St. Charles West
Posted a 7-1 record on the mound with a 1.52 ERA in 50 2/3 innings pitched as West reached the Class 4 quarterfinals. Out of the 32 hits allowed, only five were for extra bases. Led the Warriors with 80 strikeouts and carried a 0.87 WHIP. Offensively, led West with 18 RBI and posted a .318 batting average. GAC North player of the year.
C: Logan Reidelberger, senior, Fort Zumwalt South
Helped guide the Bulldogs to a fourth-place finish in Class 5. Reidelberger led the team with a .413 batting average and collected 27 RBI while posting a .500 slugging percentage. In 34 games, he allowed only three passed balls and committed only one error.
IF: Hunter Bassin, senior, Crystal City
The area leader in batting average at .563 with Crystal City win a Class 2 district title. Bassin led the Hornets in RBI (41), home runs (7), triples (5) and doubles (8). He also led the area with a 1.172 slugging percentage and scored 28 runs. Signed with Mineral Area College.
IF: Drew Sowerwine, senior Father McGivney
Helped guide Griffins to the Class 1A state final for first time in program history. Batted .387 with a .622 slugging percentage. Delivered 36 RBI with three home runs and scored 40 times. Also 7-1 on the mound with a 1.86 ERA in 49 innings pitched. Signed with Culver-Stockton.
IF: Jack Meyer, senior, Summit
Helped the Falcons to a third-place finish in Class 5. Meyer led Summit in batting average (.457), on-base percentage (.560), slugging percentage (.670), RBI (34), home runs (4) and scored 22 times. Signed with Lindenwood.
IF: Colby Ott, senior, Jefferson
Smooth-fielding shortstop helped Jefferson to third-place finish in Class 3, the best in program history. Led Blue Jays in batting average (.487), slugging (.782), runs scored (29), RBI (25), home runs (3), triples (3), doubles (8) and hits (38). Also made 11 pitching appearances with a .60 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. Signed with Jefferson College.
OF: Andrew Kuehn, junior, Seckman
Helped Jaguars to a 21-win season by posting a .446 batting average with a .674 slugging percentage. He picked up two home runs with 29 RBI and scored 40 times. Also had seven doubles and four triples.
OF: Lane Otten, sophomore, Freeburg
Leadoff hitter for one of the most potent offenses in the area batted .396 with a .595 slugging percentage. Collected 23 RBI while scoring 33 times. He was also a perfect 8-0 on the mound with a 1.58 ERA in 46 1/3 innings pitched with 33 strikeouts for the Illinois Class 2A state champions.
OF: Daniel Wissler, junior, Fort Zumwalt West
Stalwart patrolman led the Jaguars with 43 RBI and 23 stolen bases on their run to the Class 6 state championship game. He posted a .363 batting average with a .500 slugging percentage and had 11 doubles with three triples and scored 39 times.
U: Drew Watts, senior, Triad
Helped lead Knights to a Class 3A sectional final. Batted .348 with a .455 slugging percentage and 33 RBI. Was a force on the mound. Watts tied for the area lead with seven complete games. He went a perfect 7-0 with a 0.86 ERA in 56 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 59 batters.
2021 All-Metro baseball third team
P: Dane Bjorn, sophomore, Lindbergh
Ace started 10 games and helped Lindbergh march to the Class 6 quarterfinal round and a 25-9 season. All-conference pitcher collected five wins and posted a 1.83 ERA in 49 2/3 innings pitched and led the Flyers with 69 strikeouts.
P: Kamden Casey, junior, Freeburg
Was a perfect 8-0 on the mound for the Illinois Class 2A state champions. Threw two no-hitters and posted a 0.60 ERA in 46 1/3 innings pitched. Posted a seven-inning complete game shutout in the state championship game against Timothy Christian.
C: Ben Beier, senior, Lutheran South
Metro League co-player of the year. The stalwart backstop led the league champion Lancers in most offensive categories, including batting average (.529), slugging percentage (1.074), runs scored (27), home runs (6), triples (3), doubles (13) and RBI (28). Signed with UMSL.
IF: Will Doherty, senior, Francis Howell
Helped the Vikings to a district championship and Class 6 quarterfinal appearance while batting .447 with a .675 slugging percentage. He also collected 36 RBI, hit 13 doubles and led the Vikings with three home runs. Signed with Missouri Southern.
IF: Brayden Knoebel, senior, Mascoutah
Hard-hitting third baseman led team in batting average (.474), slugging (.756), home runs (3) and RBI (30). He also posted an 8-1 record on the mound with five complete games and a 1.22 ERA in 46 innings pitched.
IF: Spencer Stearns, junior, Edwardsville
Paced the Tigers to a 34-win season with a .384 batting average. He led the Tigers with 43 RBI and five home runs. First-team all-Southwestern Conference third baseman also scored 32 times and was a perfect 3-0 on the mound with a 0.50 ERA in 14 innings pitched.
OF: Kendall Brookins, junior, O'Fallon
Was a key component in the Panthers’ third-place finish in the Illinois Class 4A state tournament, equaling the program’s best finish. Brookins posted a .308 batting average with 22 RBI and 30 runs scored.
OF: Ben Goff, senior, John Burroughs
Helped Bombers reach district final by posting a .421 batting average with 16 RBI and 15 runs scored. Goff collected two wins as a pitcher in eight games started and held a 1.85 ERA with 41 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 60 batters. Will continue career at Amherst College.
OF: Derek Williams, senior, Windsor
Led the Owls in most offensive categories, including RBI (42), doubles (12), runs scored (27), batting average (.463) and slugging (1.013). He also was 4-2 on the mound with a 0.82 ERA in 34 1/3 innings pitched. Signed with John A. Logan.
U: Tyler Charlton, junior, CBC
Charlton helped CBC to a fourth-place Class 6 finish while posting a 6-1 pitching record with a 1.53 ERA in 50 1/3 innings pitched. Tossed four complete games with 85 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .210 batting average. Verbal pledge to Missouri State.
U: Carson Subbert, senior, Francis Howell
The co-Gateway Athletics Conference South Division player of the year helped the Vikings to a 29-9 season, a conference title and a berth in the Class 6 quarterfinals. Lindenwood signee was 7-1 on the mound with 63 strikeouts, 10 walks and five complete games in 55 1/3 innings pitched. Also hit .390 with 22 RBI, 16 doubles and team-leading 24 walks along with 18 stolen bases.
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