ANNA — Coming off a no-hitter his last time out 10 days ago, Isaac Crabb tossed a one-hitter, and Javie Beal hit a rare inside-the-park home run to beat West Frankfort, 6-0, and lead Harrisburg to its third straight regional title at the Anna-Jonesboro 2A baseball regional final Saturday.
“We played awfully well today,” said Harrisburg coach Jay Thompson. “Frankfort competed very hard and Brandon Johnson pitched great, we were just able to execute a couple of two-out plays and squeeze bunts. We played pretty much error free and Isaac was in complete control. I think Beal’s home run was the first one that’s ever been hit in my lengthy tenure at coach. I remember way back when in the 1989 season I think Troy Hughes from Mount Vernon hit one against us, but we haven’t.”
Harrisburg (28-8) will take a 17-game winning streak into the Benton Sectional where the Bulldogs will face Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher (18-13) in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The big hit came in the fifth inning with the Bulldogs leading 4-0. With one out, Beal hit Brogan Rains’ first pitch on a rope towards the pulled-in left fielder, and when it curved at the last second and shot around him, Beal circled the bases.
“I was just trying to stay short and keep it to left,” Beal said. “I got jammed on my first at-bat so I was just trying to square one up and got lucky. I was thinking three all the way and then I saw Coach Thompson waving me in, so I kept going. That was my first for high school. I may have had one in summer ball, but I don’t remember.”
Crabb (7-2) set down the first six batters he faced on just 21 pitches. The junior broke up his perfect game by walking Blake Engler to open the third inning, but he was erased when Engler was caught stealing on a called third strike.
Trailing 2-0, West Frankfort (20-8) took advantage of Crabb’s wildness in the fourth inning to load the bases with no outs. It started with Crabb walking the leadoff batter and continued when Bryson Dorris tried to bunt Ryley House to second. Crabb fielded the ball, but threw it into center field putting runners at first and second.
Following a wild pitch Crabb walked Connor Eaton on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. On the first pitch to Gavyn Woolard House broke for home, but was easily tagged out by the catcher Crayton Morse.
“It was supposed to be a squeeze, but we weren’t able to execute on it though and that put us in a bind,” said West Frankfort coach Michael Warren. “We’ve had a little bit of trouble this year with the bases loaded I would say 10 different times we’ve had bases loaded with no outs and haven’t been able to capitalize, believe it or not it’s true. He’s a good pitcher pumping those pitches in there for strikes, and, like his dad was screaming from the dugout, ‘be a Bulldog,’ and he was a Bulldog out there. He went right at us and the moment wasn’t too big for him.”
Three pitches later Woolard struck out on a called third strike and it took only one pitch to get Rains to pop out to second and end the inning.
“I was thinking if we could get the first out I could throw a couple big pitches and get us out of there with no runs,” Crabb said. “We practice the squeeze, so we knew it was coming and how to execute it right.”
Crabb lost his no-hit bid in the fifth on a two-out line drive by Gabe Campbell that bounced over the third base bag into the left field corner. Crabb struck out the next batter to strand him at first.
Crabb issued his fourth walk to open the sixth inning but finished strong, retiring the last six batters in order. He struck out the last two batters to finish with eight.
Harrisburg took the lead in the first inning on a leadoff base hit by Will Grubbs, who then stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice fly before scoring on a two-out wild pitch by Johnson.
Crabb drew a leadoff walk to open the third. After advancing to second on a balk and to third on a bunt hit by Morse he scored when Javie Beal bunted back to Johnson, who decided to take the out at first.
A leadoff error in the fourth inning put Johnson in hot water again. After a wild pitch put Griffith on second, Johnson struck out the next two batters, but a base hit by Will Holland drove in a run, and Crabb followed with a double to up the lead to 4-0.
After Beal’s home run, Morse drove in the final run in the fifth inning on a ground-out to third following an error and base hit by Colby Morse.
“This is the first 20-win season in Frankfort history,” Warren said. “We had nine seniors on this team who always wanted more. I’m proud of these guys.”