Olson outduels Giedd in Fulton Regional final
FULTON – With lefty aces Ryan Olson and Tyler Giedd on the mound, the difference between winning and losing was razor-thin between Newman and Eastland in Saturday’s Class 1A Fulton Regional final.
Collin McGinn provided that margin.
The junior outfielder’s two-out, run-scoring single in the fourth inning was the lone dent in the scoreboard and lifted the Comets to a 1-0 win over the Cougars. It’s the second regional title in three years for Newman (19-11), who will take on Somonauk on Wednesday at the Lena-Winslow Sectional.
“This is something we’ve been working for all season,” Olson said, “but now we’ve got to take it a step further and look forward to that sectional.”
Both pitchers were brilliant. Olson tossed his third no-hitter of the season, with 15 strikeouts and four walks. Giedd wasn’t far behind, allowing one run, four hits and four walks, with nine strikeouts.
“Ryan is a great pitcher,” Giedd said, “and I was just glad I could pitch against him today. It was really fun.”
“Those were two of the best pitchers in the area going at it today,” Eastland coach Weston Burkholder said. “Coach [Dale Hartman] and I on the way over here [Friday] night, we thought it was going to be a one-run game. We just ended up on the short end of the stick this year.”
Michael Ely started Newman on the path to the game’s only run with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. One out later, Olson hit a slow dribbler into right field, but Ely stopped at second base, even as third-base coach Dan Crawford was furiously waving his arms to keep running.
With runners at first and second, Eastland pulled a bit of trickery to eliminate Ely on the basepaths. Giedd faked a pickoff throw to first, and first baseman Chase Wilhelms further sold it by running into foul ground to retrieve the ball, which was still in Giedd’s glove.
Ely bought the move, broke for third base and was easily picked off.
“When we executed that play,” Burkholder said, “I thought we were going to get out of it.”
With two outs and courtesy runner Michael Burke on first, the Comets made their move. Burke stole second base, then went to third on a wild pitch.
McGinn followed with what he termed the biggest hit of his life, a clean single to left.
“I just fouled off a couple of pitches,” McGinn said, “and once I got a pitch that I liked, I just tried my best to pull it. It was an inside pitch and I just tried to get it over the infield.”
Olson got out of a two-on, two-out situation in the fourth inning, then wriggled out of a major jam in the sixth. Eastland’s Austin Weaver led off with a walk and, after Devin Hartman struck out, stole second. Giedd followed with a walk, and both runners moved up a base on a groundout by Ramsay Truckenmiller.
That brought up Wilhelms, who struck out looking his first two at-bats. With first base open, Olson chose to come right at Wilhelms, and it paid off. Olson needed only three pitches to strike out Wilhelms, again looking, and credited Crawford with calling the right pitches.
“[Crawford] kept giving me fastballs – just go at him, because he did go down looking twice his first two at bats,” Olson said. “We decided to just go at him, and it worked.”
Olson, who threw 117 pitches, struck out the side in the seventh to finish his masterpiece.
“I was getting tired at the end, and I was getting nervous too,” Olson said. “I’m just glad I had a good defense behind me.”
Star of the game: Ryan Olson, Newman, 7 IP, 0 H, 15 SO
Key performers: Colin McGinn, Newman, 1B, RBI; Tyler Giedd, Eastland, 6 IP, R, 4 H, 9 SO
Up next: 1A Lena-Winslow Sectional semifinal – Newman vs. Somonauk, 6:45 p.m. Wednesday