Not many birthday presents have been better than the one Cody Hall got Monday night.
The former Harrisburg standout and Harrisburg Post 167 American Legion baseball coach, who turned 26 Monday, also led his team to a 5-4 victory over Centralia and claimed the 5th Division American Legion title over Post 446.
By virtue of winning the 5th Division, Harrisburg now moves on the Illinois American Legion State Tournament, which begins Thursday in Danville.
One would have to go back to 2001 to find the last Harrisburg American Legion team that advanced to the state tournament.
"When you get a 5-0 lead there, nothing is safe," Hall said. "Centralia is a scrappy team and chipped away at it but at the end of the day we found a way to win. When you can get out early like that it's really nice. It was a great offensive approach all day."
Harrisburg put up a couple of runs in the first two innings when Colby Morse scored on a sac-fly by Noah Boon in the first and in the second inning, Jackson Pittman scored on a Luke Miller fielder's choice.
Boon then unleashed on a bomb to left field, scoring Krayton Morse in the third. Ben Brombaugh, who led off the fourth with a single, scored on Andrew Bittle's shot into right field.
Centralia made things interesting in the top of the sixth, scoring four runs as starter Braden Unthank was relieved by Chance Moscaredlli.
Moscaredlli came in and struck out two as Centralia left the bases loaded and Boon came in the top of the seventh and got three outs for the win.
Unthank picked up the win, going five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits, while striking out seven and walking three. Moscardelli went 2/3 of an inning, striking out two and Boon struck out one in his inning.
"The approach we've had every game at the plate, on defense, pitchers keep battling and finding a way to keep us in the game and battling. It got kind of hairy there in the sixth but we had Chance come in and shut the door on a really tight situation with the bases loaded and then Boon comes in and does what Boon does and he shut the door and gave us a really good chance to win.
"It's not just Boon, it's every one of our guys," Hall added. "The Morse twins, Brombaugh at the leadoff spot, Bittle in the three hole that can bunt and hit for power and average. He does a great job and 1-9 and all of our bullpen pieces there do a great job of just giving us a great chance to win. When you've got guys like Boon and guys like him you have a good chance to win."
Harrisburg had 13 hits on the day as Colby and Krayton Morse each finished 2-for-4, while Bittle and Pittman went 2-for-3. Brombaugh, Boon and Caden VanMeter all had one hit.
Harrisburg will play Barrington at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.