The Harrisburg High School baseball team won their sixth straight Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference Championship Monday by blasting Benton 5-1 at Dorris Heights.
The Bulldogs got a little help from Massac County as the Patriots knocked off Herrin 3-2 on Monday, giving Harrisburg the outright title.
A little more help came from the arm of Ryne Roper, who shut down Benton, with a high-powered fastball, a controlling curveball and a devastating changeup.
At the plate, Brady Mayer went 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
Roper struck out 13 Monday, giving up two hits, each to Nathaniel Higgins, one of them being a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning.
That home run was the first run Roper had given up in 42 1/3 innings.
Harrisburg plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning when Mayer connected on an 0-2 pitch from Dakota Head, sending a shot down the right field line to scored Roper and Cody Hall.
Roper worked out of some trouble in the fifth inning when he gave up a lead off single to Higgins and followed that up with a walk to Caleb Kearney. Roper then sat Tyler Owens down with a backwards K and did the same to Gus Gibbs, before Justin Younger made a full extension diving save in centerfield to get Martin Ward out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, Mayer came through again with a single into left field, scoring Sykes Thompson and Blake Buchanan. Thompson reached via sacrifice-bunt and Roper was intentionally walked. The Rangers didn't help out their starter much as Higgins committed two errors in the inning.
Head took the loss for the Rangers as he gave up five runs on four hits and struck out five while walking one.
The Bulldogs moved to 19-3 overall and is now 8-1 in the SIRR Ohio and is slated to host West Frankfort (today) Tuesday. Harrisburg has now won at least a share of the conference crown in baseball in six of the past seven seasons and added to conference championships in football and boys basketball from earlier this year.
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister. com Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.