JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. — A 10-run 1st set the tone for the 5-inning victory that Okaw Valley used to claim the Okaw Valley 1A Regional Championship on Monday over St. Anthony, 15-4.
St. Anthony got on the board first, but that didn't matter. A Cody Drake grand slam in the Okaw 1st and a Hutson Dickens single gave Okaw all they would need for the win.
Okaw ace Garrett Fritz only gave up four hits and three walks in five innings, while striking out seven. The Okaw hit crew rolled up the score quick and in hurry and Fritz held the Bullpups in check.
Mendella led off the game with a St. A hit and, with one out, Utz doubled to make it 1-0. Fritz KO'd his second victim to end the 1st.
Okaw came up to bat and anted-up. Austin Harshman led off with a walk, Sam Hagerman walked and Fritz singled. Drake then hit a 3-1 pitch for a base-clearing grand slam, 4-1.
With two outs, Jared Bunfill singled and Dickens singled and Bunfill scored, 5-1. Austin Hill singled and Harshman reached on an error. Dickens scored, 6-1.
Hagerman reached on an error and Hill and Harshman scored, 8-1. With 11 batters already to the plate in the 1st, eight runs scored, and the second rally starting with two outs, Okaw hit its second home run of the inning. Fritz hit the first pitch for a 2-run shot, 10-0
Fritz rang up the first two batters in the 2nd and the third lined out to Hagerman at 1st.
In the 2nd, Bunfill reached on an error and Hill singled with one out. Harshman walked to load the bases, again. Hagerman reached on an error, scoring Bunfill, 11-0.
Fritz grounded out, but drove Hill across, 12-0. Tanner Coleman singled, scoring Harshman, 13-0.
Fritz had control trouble in the 3rd. He walked three straight batters. Fritz threw out the runner heading home on a ground ball back to the mound. Guy then singled a run in, 13-2.
Koester reached on an error and Deters and Utz scored, 13-4, undoing the 10-run lead. In the bottom of the 3rd, Okaw re-established the 10-run lead.
With one out, Bunfill walked and Dickens singled, scoring Bunfill, 14-4. Hill singled and Harshman grounded out, scoring Dickens,15-4.
St. Anthony was running out of time. In the 4th, Seachrist led off reaching on an error. But Fritz came right back, striking out the next two batters. A pop up to Yarnell cut St A's time even shorter.
Okaw had back-to-back singles to open their 4th from Hagerman and Fritz, but three straight fly outs sent the game into the 5th and the Bullpups last chance to stay alive.
St A got started with a lead-off single from Utz. Fritz answered, throwing another strikeout. Hagerman snared a line drive and Harshman threw out Utz at 2nd on a fielder's choice to end the game and earn Okaw Valley the title.
Okaw Valley (17-1) will play either Mt. Olive or Mulberry Grove on Saturday at the Raymond Lincolnwood Sectional at 11 a.m. for the chance to go to state.
Okaw Valley 1A Regional Championship
Okaw Valley 15, St. Anthony 4
St A 103 00--4-4-4
Okaw (10)32 00--15-13-2
Okaw stats: Harshman 0-for-2, 2 BBs, ROE, 3 runs, RBI; Hagerman 1-for-3, BB, 2 ROEs, 2 runs; Fritz 3-for-4, HR, 2 runs, 3 RBIs; Drake 2-for-3, BB, 2B, GS HR, run, 4 RBIs; Coleman 1-for-3, BB, RBI; Yarnell 0-for-4; Bunfill 1-for-2, BB, ROE, 3 runs; Dickens 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Hill 3-for-3, 2 runs. Pitching (W) Fritz 5 IP, 4 runs (2 ER), 4 hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks.
St A stats: Mendella 1-for-2, BB, 2 runs; Deters 0-for-2, BB, run; Utz 2-for-3, 2B, run; Guy 1-for-3, 2 RBIs; Walsh 0-for-1, BB; Seachrist 0-for-2, ROE, SB; Koester 0-for-2, ROE. Pitching (L) Guy .2 IP, 10 runs, 6 hits, 2 BBs, 0 Ks, 2 HRs; Mendella 1.2 IP, 4 runs, 3 hits, 4 BBs, 1 K; Ludwig 1.2 IP, run, 4 hits, 0 BBs, 0 Ks.