Effingham Daily News
St. Anthony’s Ben Hecht and South Central’s Dan Diss have very different pitching styles.
Diss, a left-handed hurler, prefers to paint the corners of the plate and throw off hitters’ timing with offspeed pitches.
Hecht, a righty, prefers to blow hitters away with his fastball every chance he gets.
Both styles, though different, were effective on Tuesday night in St. Elmo for the National Trail Conference fall baseball championship game, which the Bulldogs won, 4-1.
Hecht was just a little bit better than Diss, striking out 15 Cougars and allowing only two hits in seven innings.
After not getting much work on the mound the past couple weeks due to a lighter schedule and several weather postponements, St. Anthony coach Kenny Miller said he was pleased with Hecht’s performance.
“It’s been hard to keep Ben sharp,” he said. “If there’s such a thing as too much rest, he had it.”
Hecht struck out the side in three separate innings, and even pulled off the rare feat of striking out four batters (due to a dropped third strike on the leadoff hitter) in the third inning.
Diss only struck out six Bulldog, but was still very effective, allowing only four hits in seven innings.
“I thought he was really good,” South Central coach Curt Jones said. “He kept us in the ballgame.”
St. Anthony caught a break in the fifth inning, when Diss temporarily lost his command and walked the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches after striking out the leadoff hitter.
Then, Neil Williams stepped to the plate with a chance to give his team the lead.
He didn’t waste much time, smacking the second pitch he saw past the second baseman, driving in two runs.
Williams advanced to second base on the throw home, and would eventually score when Hecht got into a prolonged run-down during which two Bulldogs to cross the plate.
Kyle Bray picked up South Central’s first hit in the bottom of the sixth inning, then scored on a single by Fischer Tharp.
Despite only giving up two hits, Hecht flirted with danger all night, allowing at least one baserunner in each frame.
But, time and time again, he would pitch his way out of the jam.
“He was so good when he had to be,” Jones said. “We hadn’t seen a pitcher like that all year.”
“When he’s focused, he’s good,” Miller added.
Miller said that his team’s defense was also a big part of the victory, and that pitching and defense would continue to be the Bulldogs’ forte in the spring season.
“If you pitch and play defense, you’re going to be in a lot of games,” he said.
Neoga takes third
Riley Walk had three hits, including a home run, to lead the Indians to a third-place finish in the National Trail Conference fall season on Tuesday in St. Elmo.
Neoga withstood a grand slam from the Comets’ Gunner Theis in the third inning, holding on to win 6-4.
Tyler Romack picked up the win, pitching seven innings and allowing only three hits while striking out 10. He also added two singles and two RBIs.
Kenton Albin picked up Neoga’s other RBI, and Michael Baker chipped in with a two-hit day.
Neoga finished the fall season with a record of 8-10-1. Stew-Stras ended at 11-7.