JOLIET – It's hard enough to beat a good team like defending Class 2A champion Stanford Olympia when all things are equal. Give the Spartans an eight-run cushion in the first two innings and the odds of beating them fall dramatically.
Watseka fell behind Olympia early and managed two hits in an 11-0 loss in the state semifinals Friday at Silver Cross Field.
"They put a four-spot up in the first and second, and that's tough to dig out of," Watseka coach Darin Hartman said. "Offensively we really struggled, and that's what I was probably most disappointed with. We had some miscues defensively, and that's part of the reason we gave up those runs. When you get to this level, I don't care if it's the College World Series, it doesn't matter, you have to play flawless defense."
Watseka starter Seth Woods entered the contest with a 6-1 record and an 0.72 ERA, but that didn't intimidate the Spartans (28-6).
They touched the right-hander for 16 hits, and all but one of their 11 runs were earned.
"I'll be honest, I think Seth did OK," Hartman said. "I realize it doesn't look like that in the box score, but he threw strikes and I don't think we walked anybody. He made some great pitches, and they are probably the best two-strike hitters we've seen in a long time.
"It's not like Seth throws 75 miles an hour. He's throwing 84, 85. They just do a great job at the plate. They're disciplined. They wait back on the curveball, and they put it in play. Today they fell in for hits."
Olympia, which Hartman called "the best team, high schoolwise I've seen in quite a while," will look to make it two straight state titles in today's championship game against Edwardsville Metro-East Lutheran.
The Warriors (24-6), who got hits from Dylan DeFauw and Spencer Harris, will play Morrison in the third-place game.
"I think we'll be OK. This was kind of a kick in the teeth for us," Hartman said. "It kind of bruised our pride and I think the kids are disappointed and rightfully so, they should be. But we have to put on a better performance than that and they're taking it as a challenge, and I think we'll be OK tomorrow."