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  • Members of the Harrisburg baseball team and coaches pose with the IHSA Class 2A Sectional Championship after knocking off Nashville 7-5 Saturday in Benton.

    Members of the Harrisburg baseball team and coaches pose with the IHSA Class 2A Sectional Championship after knocking off Nashville 7-5 Saturday in Benton.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 5/26/2019 9:26 AM

To his credit, Harrisburg head coach Jay Thompson has six Class 2A Sectional championships, with the last coming back in 2010.

And even after his Bulldogs outlasted Nashville Saturday in a 7-5 victory at Evoladi Field, the seventh title was just as special as the half dozen before.

"It's a different group of kids every time," Thompson pointed out. "When you are in high school, you don't get a lot of opportunities to play in games like this and if you're fortunate to win them, they are pretty special."

It was an epiphany for Thompson who in the sixth inning looked out on the field and was taken aback at what he saw.

"I looked out and what did I see? We had five sophomores and four juniors on the field. These guys are still earning their wings, but these kids have also learned to accept their role and do what they can do. We never ask for a kid to do more than he can do."

Youth was served and in a big way Saturday as the Sectional title game could be called the Noah Boon Game as the 6-foot, 200-pound sophomore right hander was pulling double duty at both the plate and on the bump.

Boon got the start for Harrisburg (30-8) and improved to 9-2 with a masterful performance that saw him strike out six and walk three, while giving up four runs on eight hits.

At the plate, Boon was just as good.

His first inning no-doubt home run to center field gave Harrisburg a 4-0 lead as he finished the day 3-for-3 at the plate, including a team-high four RBI and a run scored.

"I hate to say it, but that's kind of what we have been expecting out of him all year long," Thompson admitted. "He's been up and down -- at times -- but he picked a great day to show out."

Boon wasn't alone though.

After Nashville battled back from a 6-1 deficit to put up three runs in the fifth and get to within one run after scoring in the sixth, the Bulldogs turned things over to Isaac Crabb, who shut the door on the Hornets, striking out two and retiring Nashville in order in the seventh.

Harrisburg had 13 hits on the day as Crabb went 3-for-4, while Jack Martin was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Andrew Bittle was also 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Will Gibbs, Krayton Morse and Colby Morse all had one hit.

Gibbs led the game off with a single, but was forced out on Holland's fielder's choice. Holland then stole second and moved to third on Crabb's single to centerfield. Jack Martin followed with an RBI down left field line to score Holland and Boon cleared the bases with his dinger to center.

Nashville got on the board in the bottom of the first when Bryce Bultman singled left field and scored Carson Parker.

In the bottom of the second, Kelton Harre led off with a bunt single and stole second and Liam Blazier was hit by a pitch, but Boon worked out of the jam, getting Todd Jahnke and Parker to strikeout.

Boon added another insurance run and another RBI to his day with a double to center, scoring Jacob Pernod, pinch running for Crabb, who led the inning off with a single. Andrew Bittle then came through with an RBI, scoring Brandon Banks, pinch running for Boon.

Boon struck again in the fifth with an RBI to center field to make it 6-1 and then Nashville started its really.

"That's what Nashville is -- They are the scrappy little guy that just keeps coming and coming," Thompson said. "We really missed some opportunities (to score) in the middle innings. We had a chance to throw up a few more runs and didn't get it done. We had two really good at bats in the seventh inning that got us a run and we played good defense all day and our pitching was good."

Harrisburg will now take on Teutopolis in the Super Sectional at GCS Ballpark, home of the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget on Monday night at 5 p.m.

Thompson will look to hand the ball off to his ace, Crabb against the Wooden Shoes, but know he has plenty of options if needed.

"We'll evaluate where our pitching is at. Isaac will have pitches, he's fine by the pitch count rules. Guys like Jack Martin will be good to go, but guys like Connor Phalin and Brandon Banks could come back and give us some innings. This is just a group of gutty kids and I like our chances going into Monday's game."

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.