COAL CITY — For fans of an old-fashioned pitcher's duel, it didn't get any better than Saturday's Class 3A Coal City Regional baseball title game between Morris and Coal City.
The Redskins and Coalers were scoreless through eight and a half innings before Coal City came to bat in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Zack Nolan of Coal City singled. He then stole second as the next batter struck out, bringing up Carter Copes.
Copes lined an opposite-field single to left and Nolan, who was off on contact, raced around third and dove headfirst into home with the game's only run as the Coalers walked off with a 1-0 win and advanced to Wednesday's Ottawa Sectional semifinal against Chicago Heights Marian Catholic at 5 p.m.
It was the third straight regional title for the Coalers, all three by 1-0 scores. Two years ago, the Coalers defeated Reed-Custer 1-0 and last year, they defeated Joliet Catholic Academy by the same score.
The run in the bottom of the ninth was the only run that Morris pitching gave up in three post-season games, as the Redskins had shut out LaSalle-Peru and Manteno to reach the title tilt.
Morris senior Andy Peters was brilliant once again for the Redskins (18-16), striking out 13 in 7 2/3 shutout innings. Coal City starter Blake Harseim was just as dominant, allowing just one hit, an infield single by Danny Borgstrom, in his 7 1/3 innings of work before giving way to Keagan Gagliardo, who blanked the Redskins on one hit, another single by Borgstrom, the rest of the way and got the win.
"What a great game," Coal City coach Jerry McDowell said. "Win or lose, this was a great game to be a part of. Blake kind of hit the wall in the eighth inning, leading off with a four-pitch walk and going 2-0 on the next hitter. So, we brought Keagan in and he did a great job of getting out of the inning and keeping us alive."
For Morris, it was a game of missed opportunities.
"We probably had about four opportunities to score," Morris coach Todd Kein said. "But, hand it to Coal City. They made the plays.
"I don't think I have seen two pitchers go at it like since 2006 when we played Wilmington at Silver Cross FIeld and Jamie Cumbie and Dillon Roark were pitching. Today, both Andy and Blake were at the top of their games."