PAXTON — No one avoided Hunter Hart in the dugout.
Or didn’t talk to the St. Joseph-Ogden right-hander.
The Spartans’ baseball team had bigger goals than a possible no-hitter thrown by its ace. Like winning a Class 2A regional championship.
Hart helped the Spartans accomplish the objective after he threw a one-hitter during SJ-O’s 8-0 win against St. Thomas More on Saturday.
“To be honest with you, the guys were just focused and locked in on the game,” SJ-O coach Josh Haley said. “It was almost second fiddle. At the same time, the guys are kind of used to it. You never take it for granted, but he’s been in that situation so many times. You hate to say it’s expected, but he’s just good.”
So are the top-seeded Spartans (24-7), who took an early lead against second-seeded STM and did not relinquish it. A two-out, two-run double by Tyler McCormick (2 for 4) in the first inning kick-started the Spartans’ offense, which also received two RBI from Bryce Stewart (1 for 2) and an RBI from Hart (2 for 4).
Add in the dominance from Hart (10-1) on the mound and the Sabers did not stand much of a chance.
“We were really mentally there,” Haley said. “We got tack-on runs, and that was the big thing.”
Hart — who struck out nine and walked one — did not allow a hit until one out in the top of the seventh.
“He located his fastball all day, he had his breaking pitch working and he just had command,” Haley said. “He was in control all game long.”
Oakwood 5, Unity 2. Conor Jarling hurt Unity with his bat and arm. The byproduct allowed the second-seeded Comets to knock off the top-seeded Rockets during a 2A regional championship game in Tolono.
Jarling threw a complete game for Oakwood (19-6), allowing four hits and overcoming three walks by striking out six. He added two hits and drove in a run for the Comets, who won their first regional championship since 2005.
Mitch Negangard had two hits for the Rockets (18-11).
Beecher 5, Watseka 0. Beecher scored all five of its runs in the top of the seventh to prevail in a 2A regional championship game at Momence. Austin Hasselbring had two hits, including a double, for the top-seeded Warriors (20-7).
Shelbyville 7, Tuscola 1. The host Warriors could not overcome the top-seeded Rams in a 2A regional title game at Tuscola. Nick Bates went 2 for 3 with a home run for Tuscola, but three errors did not help the third-seeded Warriors, who placed second in state last year in 1A.
Olympia 10, Clinton 0. Steven Evans and Mason Dial had the only hits for the second-seeded Maroons during a five-inning 2A regional championship loss in Stanford.
Iroquois West 2, Milford 0. Henry Gerritson gave up one hit and struck out 15 to help the host Raiders claim a 1A regional title on their home field. Gerritson was perfect through six innings before allowing a hit in the seventh inning. Keaton Zirkle drove in both runs for IW (9-13), and Clark Fink made a diving catch in the seventh inning to preserve the shutout.
“Gerritson pitched a gem,” Raiders coach Sam Rhodes said. “You couldn’t ask anyone to do better than that.”
East Central 6, Tri-County 0. Cyrus Furgeson threw a one-hit shutout to propel the top-seeded Panthers to a 1A regional championship win at Broadlands. Furgeson faced the minimum 21 batters and only needed 58 pitches to throw his complete game. Chance Lemmon drove in two runs for East Central (18-14).
Salt Fork 13, Cissna Park 3. The top-seeded Storm scored five runs in the bottom of the third to break a 3-3 tie and cruised to the six-inning victory during a 1A regional championship game at Cissna Park. Noah Darr went 5 for 5 with two RBI for Salt Fork while Cole Sanford (2 for 4, RBI), Max Stutsman (1 for 2, two RBI) and Ross Learnard (1 for 3, RBI) chipped in. Beau Anderson went 1 for 3 with an RBI for the second-seeded Timberwolves.
Decatur Lutheran 5, Blue Ridge 3. Forrest Boggs had two hits and scored a run while C.J. Bishop drove in a run, but the third-seeded Knights could not recover from an early 3-0 deficit in a 1A regional title-game loss at Fisher.