The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

The Decaturian is Millikin's student-run newspaper. The opinions reflected may not be those of Millikin as an institution.

The Decaturian

Millikin Baseball Wins Second CCIW Championship in Four Years

Zoe Gousios

The Big Blue baseball team overcame the odds. The team is a story of resiliency throughout, embracing adversity and never shying away from difficulty. 

After getting off to a slow start to the season due to tougher competition, the team found their stride. The Big Blue started the season 6-4, but they never lost more than two games in a row for the rest of the season, showing a consistent ability to bounce back when needed most. 

The season was not without adversity, however. The team lost two of three to CCIW rival North Park in mid-April, making it a more difficult road to be able to host the CCIW tournament in Decatur. After dropping a game to Wheaton, they were forced to accept that they would have to win a championship in a hostile environment. 

This Millikin did, downing defending champion Augustana 9-8 in a game that came down to the wire. 

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One of the ultimate goals was to win the conference tournament, but junior third basemen Kyle Gibson realizes that this team is meant for much more. 

“So far we have three of our four goals accomplished,” Gibson said. “These goals are to beat Illinois Wesleyan, make it to the conference tournament, and ultimately win the tournament. Our fourth goal is to win a national championship, and we believe that we have the guys to do just that.” 

Although the team’s goal is to win a national championship, each player understands how much this moment meant for each player and coach. 

“The nerves were there, they were,” Gibson said. “I couldn’t sleep all weekend. In that final moment, I just blacked out after I caught the last out.” 

After two home runs from Tommy Shaw helped Millikin get out to an 8-1 lead, Augustana came roaring back with two home runs of their own, eventually tying the game. 

Landon Johnson pitched a great game, allowing three runs before Drew Sutton took over. Sutton struggled at first, allowing Augustana to tie the game rather quickly. He would bounce back though, slamming the door in the next few innings of work and preventing a streaky Augustana team from taking any sort of lead. 

To close the game, head coach Brandon Townsend opted to send out his best weapon, Caleb Buehrle. After all, a CCIW tournament championship was one of the main reasons that “The Grandpa” returned, so who better to help clinch the first CCIW title for the team since 2021? 

Zoe Gousios

“A tournament win means so much,” Buehrle said. “There are so many people here who put so much work in during the fall and over the summer to get us where we needed to be. The guys battled their tails off today, and it was awesome to watch. This moment was so worth it.” 

Buehrle cruised through his first inning of work, but adversity arose midway through the 9th inning. After allowing the first runner to reach, Buehrle received a mound visit from senior catcher Ryan Janssen. Buehrle would go on to hit two batters in a row, leading the bases loaded with two outs. 

“I think a younger me would have lost my mind,” Buehrle said. “Would I have gotten the job done? Hopefully, but I would have been shaking in my boots.” 

He cited a relief outing from earlier in the season for his ability to keep his composure. 

“That relief outing I had at North Central in the last week of the season really helped me,” he said. “I’ve thrown complete games before, so I’ve pitched in the 9th inning, but to come out of the bullpen and protect a lead is very different. There’s an adrenaline rush. It’s fun baseball.” 

It was an adrenaline rush, as Buehrle called Janssen out for a meeting at the mound to discuss how the long-standing battery was going to escape with a win. 

“Baseball is a game that can speed up quickly. There are some very high-pressure moments,” Janssen said. “I wanted to go out there to try to slow the game down for everyone. I looked at him right in the eyes and told him that we were going to do the same thing that we have done all year. We’re going to go attack these hitters, and we didn’t shy away from that gameplan.” 

Kyle Gibson made the final out of the game, and madness broke out after. 

“I have no clue what happened,” Gibson said. “I remember catching a fly ball and I went running to look for someone and just found everyone around me in a huge huddle. It was very rewarding to be in that moment. It was nice to finally say that we were champions.” 

Gibson and his teammates will now wait to see who their matchup will be in the first regional game. The Division III selection show is scheduled for Monday, May 13 at 12 pm. 

“We made a statement,” Janssen said. “We made a statement of what this offense and this pitching staff can do moving forward. This team has been battle tested all year. We’ve been in a lot of dog fights. We’ve been in a lot of close games and just as many heartbreakers. Championships don’t come easy.” 

This team is special, regardless of any further outcome. This team has accomplished many great things, but the greatest is still to come for the Big Blue. 

“Coach Townsend always says that we don’t stray away from pressure. We run right at it.” 

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About the Contributor
Kemper Koslofski
Kemper Koslofski, Editor-in-Chief
Kemper Koslofski serves as the current Editor-in-Chief for the Decaturian. Born and raised in Decatur, he is very passionate about journalism and the opportunities that it can provide its writers and readers. Kemper also serves as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) leader on campus. Editor-in-Chief: January 2023-Present Sports Editor: March 2023-December 2023

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