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Harrisburg gets by Z-R-C in 2A Sectional semifinals

  • Andrew Bittle was one of seven runs for Harrisburg in the third inning of Wednesday's IHSA Class 2A Sectional semifinal win over Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher at Jay Thompson Field in Harrisburg.

    Andrew Bittle was one of seven runs for Harrisburg in the third inning of Wednesday's IHSA Class 2A Sectional semifinal win over Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher at Jay Thompson Field in Harrisburg.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 6/9/2021 9:26 PM

Things that can be rare: meat, Halley's comet and Harrisburg baseball giving up a run.
It's been few and far between this season, but it was a bit of a different feeling Wednesday against Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher in the semifinals of the IHSA Class 2A Sectional at Jay Thompson Field.
Despite a handful of runs by the opposition, Harrisburg was still able to short game the Tornadoes, winning 15-5 and setting up a date with Carterville Friday in the sectional championship.
Harrisburg, who has 18 shutouts on the season, came into the game with two straight, but Bulldog head coach Jay Thompson tipped his hat to Z-R-C
"I'll give (them) a lot of credit, their kids swing the bat," Thompson said. "They are really aggressive, they have some strong kids and they hit the ball better against us today than anyone else has this year."
After a walk to Z-R-C's Anthony Rolla, Cole Freeman sent a shot in the gap to right center to put the Tornadoes on the board.
But, much like Monday against Vienna, the Harrisburg (29-1) hit parade was in full effect, early and often.
Javie Beal led off the bottom half of the frame with a rocket down the right field line for a triple. Colby Morse followed with a double to left field to plate Beal. A balk moved Colby Morse to third and Krayton Morse followed with a walk. Boon reached via error, scoring Colby Morse and Ross Rider (courtesy running) for Krayton Morse to second. A bases-clearing double by Ben Brombaugh put Harrisburg up 4-1. The hits continued when Andrew Bittle flew a shot to left field, scoring Brombaugh, forcing a Z-R-C to go to the bullpen, substituting starter Trey Cole for Freeman.
Bittle took third on a wild pitch and another, on ball four, scored Bittle, sending Riley King to first. King took second on a wild pitch and Luke Miller walked. Both runners advanced on another passed ball. Jackson Pittman's sacrifice bunt, scored King. Beal, making his second appearance in the inning, grounded out to short, scoring Miller as the Bulldogs put up eight runs on four hits and two errors in the first.
Hitting early on the last two games has been superb for the Bulldogs, but Thompson noted his team also did the little things, bunt, squeeze bunt and base stealing he called "outstanding"
"We came out and smoked about six line drives in a row," Thompson added. "Z-R-C got a run in the top of the first and probably felt some momentum there. We were able to come back and score eight and I think that took the wind out of their sails."
In the second, Scout Hudgens led off with a bloop singles to right field and Landon Bate squeezed a shot past Beal at second. Rolla then cut the lead in half with a three-run shot to left field.
Krayton Morse scored two in the bottom of the third when he doubled to right field and Boon singled past short, scoring two more. After Brombaugh walked, Z-R-C made another pitching change and Bittle loaded the bases with a perfectly executed bunt. The ending result was another seven runs for Harrisburg on three hits.
The Bulldogs had seven on the day as Bittle led the charge with a 2-for-3 performance. The senior scored two runs and had an RBI. Colby and Krayton Morse, along with, Beal, Boon and Brombaugh had the other hits. Boon had a team-high three RBI, while Riley King, Brombaugh and Krayton Morse all had two RBI.
On the bump Boon went 1.2 innings, allowing four runs on four hits with four strikeouts., Peyton Arnold came on in relief to get the win and went 2.2 innings, striking out two and giving up one run (unearned) on three hits. Colby Morse worked 2/3 of an inning, striking out two and walking one.
"We have a bunch of pretty good pitchers," Thompson said. "They have done the job for us all year. We don't have dominant pitching, but we have good pitching. Our defense was really good too. The double play Colby and Javie turned. I can't say enough about us defensively."
Harrisburg has now outscored the opposition 283-32 this season and has 18 shutouts on the year.
Carterville defeated Nashville 1-0 Wednesday and will play Harrisburg at Jay Thompson Field in Friday's title game.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.