0-2 count in the bottom of the seventh with the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes up 12-6, a grounder comes to second baseman Tyler Runde. The ball is corralled in the glove of Runde who then throws to first baseman Clint Weber for the final out and secure the IHSA Class 2A State Championship over the Pleasant Plains Cardinals, making it their second title in three years.
A sea of Navy Blue charges out of the dugout and meet pitcher Mitch Hardiek just in front of the pitchers mound. Cheers from the crowd who wear white shirts that have "Fleener's boys are making some noise" referring to Wooden Shoes head coach Justin Fleener, while fireworks shoot off behind them at Dozer Park in Peoria.
Fleener's initial reaction was "we did it."
"We did it. The guys came together and put together a good performance in the championship game which accumulated for the year," Fleener said. "The goal they set out on. Through some bumps and some setbacks, we fought our way through and proved and got to the top and it's a great feeling and accomplishment."
The bats of the Wooden Shoes got going early as Dawson Smith doubled to lead off the game. Luke Ungrund knocked in Smith with a single. Ungrund would score on another double from Mitch Hardiek. Smith said that he was confident with the way the team has been hitting.
"I got on second and Luke [Ungrund] lined me in like he's been hitting the crap out of the ball. After that first inning we set the tempo for the game I felt like," Smith said. "We didn't put any pressure on Mitch [Hemmen], he just had to go out there and pitch like he has been all year."
Hardiek also knew that they could hit and put up runs. After all, the Wooden Shoes set records for runs and hits in a state championship game with 12 and 17 respectively. Hardiek went 4-5 with a double and had four RBIs. Hardiek said his double in the first stood out the most to him to put the Wooden Shoes up 2-0 and that it was probably the best game of his career.
"I knew we could do this," Hardiek said. "I was just going up there looking to hit a line drive, hit it hard somewhere."
"Mitch Hardeik was big today. At the plate, and to come in and close the door like he did was absolutely incredible," Fleener said. "Guys step up. And we've had guys step up all throughout the postseason at different times. This was Mitch Hardiek's weekend and he did that this weekend."
But to Fleener, the records were just little things. All he wanted was to take the trophy home.
"Those are little things that are nice to look back upon and remember but the more important one is this team won that game," Fleener said. "We were fortunate enough to put up some runs, get big hits whenever we needed. We had guys come through with big two out hits with runners in scoring position. And we work on that all year. We came out and put the bat on the ball. I knew that was a good sign but I knew Pleasant Plains wasn't going down, they weren't going to quit."
Mitch Hemmen said he was nervous but knew that he was ready for this game. Even though the Wooden Shoes had six errors in the game, Hemmen still bounced back and kept his composure.
"It's kind of hard to keep composure but I did my best," Hemmen said. "People make mistakes, we do it all the time. But just get the next one and they did a really good job of coming back and putting the bat on the ball and making plays whenever we needed them."
Hemmen went five and 1-3 inning giving up six runs on six hits while striking out three.
"I thought he did great for only four days rest. The back to back to back games that he was throwing from the sectional semifinal to the supersectional to this game here, big stage, big time situations. The young man stepped up and pitched well," Fleener said.
The Wooden Shoes defense, despite the six errors, came up with three huge double plays to get out of jams. In the bottom of the sixth, after the Cardinals scored three runs. Hardiek came in and got out of the jam with a 4-6-3 double play. Hardiek said he was just hoping for a ground ball.
The Wooden Shoes end the season at 28-8-1 and as Class 2A State Champions for the second time in three seasons.