SJ-O's Acklin pitches in for sectional champs

SJ-O's Acklin pitches in for sectional champs

MONTICELLO — Louis Acklin has already played in Peoria this school year.

The St. Joseph-Ogden senior might get another chance.

The Spartans hung on for a 4-2 win against Olympia to claim the program’s first sectional title on Saturday in a Class 2A game.

Thanks in part to Acklin’s right arm.

Acklin — who started for the SJ-O boys’ basketball team that placed fourth at the 2A state tournament in March — hurled a complete game to lead SJ-O (26-7).

“It feels great,” Acklin said after he held Olympia to five hits while striking out six and escaping a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning. “We always believed in ourselves that we could get this done even though not many other people really did. We had confidence the whole time.”

Acklin induced a popup that Hunter Hart caught on the infield for the final out to start the on-field celebration for SJ-O. Aaron Woller, another key basketball contributor last winter, supplied a two-run double to score Jordan Buhs and Bryce Stewart and give SJ-O a 2-1 lead in the third. Hart — who finished with three hits — then drove in Woller with a single to bump the lead to 3-1.

Ahead 3-2, an RBI single by Stewart in the bottom of the sixth scored pinch runner Josh Poulter. Brock Immke singled before Poulter, replacing him on the basepaths, stole second.

“He’s kind of been our go-to guy with that,” SJ-O coach Josh Haley said. “He had a big stolen base there.”

Olympia made sure the Spartans had to sweat out the final three outs, but having the ball in Acklin’s hands eased some of Haley’s concern.

“Knowing that you’ve got a guy who’s been in championship-type atmospheres this year, that’s just a huge confidence boost,” Haley said. “You don’t worry about his mental approach. You knew he was in control, and he was going to execute.”

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