JOLIET — When a plaque is on the line, call T.J. Schlageter.
For the second straight time, Joliet Catholic Academy’s Schlageter threw a shutout in a postseason title game Saturday when he tossed a one-hitter for the Hilltoppers to lead them to a 7-0 win over Coal City in the Class 2A Joliet Catholic Academy Sectional. On Monday, Schlagter threw a five-inning no-hitter in a regional championship win over Reed-Custer.
“I was able to go out there and pound the strike zone,” Schlageter said. “My curveball was working well. It can be tough against right-handed hitters, and I was able to throw it well today.”
JCA (23-10) was the visiting team and got Schlageter all the runs he needed before he even threw a pitch.
With one out in the top of the first, Aidan Voss drove a pitch to the base of the center field wall for a triple. Jakson Cullen followed with a walk and, with Luka Radicevich at the plate, a passed ball allowed Voss to score on a close play. After Radicevich reached on an error that sent Cullen to third, Trey Swiderski lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Cullen for a 2-0 JCA lead.
“That wall is more than 400 feet,” Voss said. “I don’t know if I have ever hit one that far before. I just saw a high fastball, which is what I was looking for. Our main goal was to get some runs early. About four years ago, they beat us 1-0 in the postseason and we didn’t want to be shut out.
“We are kind of on a revenge tour this year. We lost early in the postseason last year and we aren’t going to be satisfied until we win it all.”
JCA, which plays Brimfield in the Geneseo Super-Sectional on Monday at 1 p.m., got two more runs in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Tommy Kemp and an RBI groundout by Voss.
In the top of the fifth, the Hilltoppers had the bases loaded with two outs when Kemp lifted a short fly to right. The Coal City second baseman called for the ball, but it fell out of his glove, allowing all three runners to score.
“We did the little things right,” JCA coach Jared Voss said. “We made the plays in the field and we ran the bases well. [Courtesy runner] Dom Coda scoring from first on that dropped popup? That’s just hustle. He took off with two outs and kept running. That’s what we want.
“And, how about T.J. Schlageter? His last 12 innings, he’s given up one hit. He’s so focused and a competitor. He’s very mature and the moment never seems to get to big for him.”
Meanwhile, Schlageter was busy mowing down Coalers. The only hit came off the bat of Nolan Berger with one out in the second. Coal City (20-9) never got a runner past first base and Schlageter, who struck out nine, retired the final seven batters he faced.
“You can say we didn’t make a play here or gave one away there,” Coal City coach Greg Wills said. “But none of that matters since we didn’t score. [Pitcher] Abram [Wills] deserved better, but you don’t win if you don’t score.
“Give credit to JCA. They made the plays in the field, and when we did hit a ball hard, it seemed to go right at them. We weren’t able to put enough guys on base to put pressure on their pitcher.
‘Still, it was a great year. Back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, third regional title in four years. Our program is in good shape. You want getting this far to become expected.”