There's no mistaking that when Harrisburg reaches the postseason in baseball, their chances have been pretty good as the Bulldogs have won 11 regionals in the past 12 years.
In the same breath, when Ryne Roper takes the mound, Harrisburg is nearly impossible to beat.
When the two collided Saturday at Dorris Heights in the championship game against Vienna, the Eagles struggled.
Harrisburg got a complete-game shutout from Roper, who improved to 11-0 on the season with 11 strikeouts, as Harrisburg blanked the Eagles 5-0.
Harrisburg improved to 30-4 on the season, giving them just 30 or more wins in a year for just the fifth time in school history.
The two teams exchanged shots in the early going before the Bulldogs were able to plate a run in the third inning. A Sykes Thompson RBI single into left field scored Nick Davis, who led off the inning with a double into right center.
Harrisburg came back to score two more runs in the bottom of the fourth when Cooper Thompson led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Brady Mayer singled into left field, moving Thompson to third. Davis then had an RBI fielder's choice and with two outs,Noah Vallette lined a single into left field, scoring Braxton Keasler (pinch running for Mayer) to give the Bulldogs comfortable 3-0 lead.
"Vienna made a couple of good plays early that kept them in the ballgame," Harrisburg head coach Jay Thompson said. "We hit some balls hard that just didn't get through today. But we kept battling and had some big at bats. Sykes had a big hit, Nick's lead off double was huge in the third inning and Noah had a big two-out base hit that kind of opened the whole thing up."
For good measure, Harrisburg added two more runs in the fifth inning when Roper led off with a single and was followed by a Cody Hall single into right field that moved Blake Buchanan (pinch running for Roper) to third and Hall to second on the throw.
The two then scored on an errant pick off attempt by Vienna catcher Dallas Bent that sailed into left field allowing both to score.
Vienna's Christian Dahncke picked up the loss as he gave up eight hits. He struck out one and walked two.
Roper picked up his 11th win as the University of Illinois signee scattered just three hits and didn't issue a walk in 96 pitches.
There's no doubt that Roper will be a draft pick in this summer's amateur draft, with some prognosticating that he could go in the 7th to 12 rounds. His strikeout to walk ratio will certainly raise some eyebrows as he has 103 K's and just eight walks.
Page 2 of 2 - "He conserved his pitches a little bit and when he had to have one, he got one," said Thompson.
Harrisburg is now slated to play Shelbyville (25-3) Wednesday night at 6:30 in the Teutopolis Sectional.