Inducted 2010. Postseason Run Made an Appearance in the Single-Class State Tournament.
The 1975 Catholic Boys pitching team would have made baseball purists proud. The Raiders’ team batting average was only .240, but they used excellent pitching and defense to squeak out several close games during a postseason run that ended with an appearance in the single-class state tournament.
The Raiders were only 10-3 entering postseason play, but six of those victories were by shutouts. CB rolled past Central 22-0 in the district opener and then relied on a no-hitter by sophomore Tim Meckes and an RBI double by Dale Inman in the first inning to knock off Quincy High School 1-0 in the district final. Meckes returned in the regional semifinals to toss a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over Macomb. Jeff Johnson’s RBI triple scored Marty Peters with the game’s only run. CB finally gave up a postseason run but defeated Rushville 6-4 in the regional title game.
CB survived two one-run extra-inning games in the sectional. Rollie Thomas’ suicide bunt in the ninth inning helped the Raiders defeat Peoria Central 3-2, and Thomas scored on an infield grounder in the eighth inning to help the Raiders defeat Rock Island Alleman 2-1.
CB’s enrollment of 263 boys was the smallest in the state tournament field, with Decatur MacArthur the second smallest at 1,800 students. CB carried a 2-0 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning in its quarterfinal round game, but three errors led to four Senators runs in a 4-2 loss that ended the Raiders’ season at 16-4. Meckes finished with an 11-2 record and a 1.03 earned run average. Inman led the team with a .322 average.
Team members were, front row from left, Tim Meckes, Larry Weiman, Mark Blickhan, Mike Schuering, Chris Niemann, Dennis Gustison and Mike Liesen; middle row, John Griffard, Tom Bliven, Ken Doellman and Dale Inman; back row, Coach Steve Spanich, Jeff Johnson, Dave Lepper, Tim Waterkotte, Marty Peters, Rollie Thomas, Marvin Smith and Chuck Grawe. Assistant coach Phil Conover is not pictured.
Before the 1975 baseball season, I thought we would have a good team based on the athletes who participated. That group of young men had an inner desire to succeed that surpassed everyone’s expectations but their own. I believe that hard work, a desire to support each other as a team, the school’s discipline, parental upbringing and support, and God made this team achieve more than anyone ever expected. I have fond memories of the practices, games and team meetings, but I remember most the individual sacrifices made by the players. If only every coach could have the possibility to coach a group of players like this group, I know they would think the same as I do when I reflect on this team. Thirty-five years later, we are all a little older, but I know that young man who played this game lives inside of each one of us. — Coach Steve Spanich