PEORIA – Baseball historians know all about the “Shot Heard Round the World.” The nickname was coined when New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson beat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1951 National League pennant with one swing of the bat.
About 10 months ago, there was a shot heard round Carroll County.
Or at least loud enough for Eastland senior Austin Hansen to hear.
With his last swing in the batting cage on a day leading up to baseball regionals, Hansen’s classmate and close friend, Ty Hartman, completely tore the meniscus in his left knee. It shot through the front of the knee and split his patellar tendon.
“When I heard about it, it hurt me,” said Hansen, who added that the families are very close.
Hartman had surgery, his meniscus completely repaired, tucked in and tacked to the bone. The patellar was left to heal on its own, in case he’d ever tear his ACL.
“That was the worst pain in my life, coming out of that surgery,” Hartman said.
Then came the mental anguish. The first weeks of rehab called for rest, something Hartman doesn’t do well.
“It’s easy to get down when you can’t do anything. Everyone else is working out, getting better, playing together and jelling,” Hansen said.
Before Hartman could rebuild his knee’s strength, he received spiritual stamina from family and friends, who urged him to be patient.
“I played a lot of Playstation,” Hartman said. “Austin Hansen came over quite a bit and he kind of babysat me, if you want to say that. He helped me out around the house.”
After missing almost an entire summer he would’ve rather spent with his hoops brothers, Hartman was cleared for 5-on-5 in August.
When the hoops preseason arrived, coach Tony Dunlap didn’t mince words, saying he wondered if Hartman would ever have the same step and burst as he did last hoops season.
Game by game, Hartman crept closer and closer to version 2011-12. On Friday, the current incarnation looked perhaps even better.
“It was great to see him get stronger every game,” Hansen said. “He played a great game today. And he got beat up, too,”
Hartman looked more cunning than ever. After hedging a screen on Hansen, he caught an elbow from Marquis Borney as he went up to pass. Hartman caught another Borney elbow when the 1A all-state selection cleared out, drawing plenty of blood from the Cougar’s nose.
Rather than get mad, Hartman got secretive. Even after the double-whammy, he didn’t want to leave the floor.
“I tried hiding it from the ref right away,” said Hartman, who, along with Hansen and Dalton Shaner, played all 32 minutes. “I’m used to it. No big deal, He didn’t break it or anything.”
Virtually every time Hartman held the ball in the paint, good things happened. He drew fouls and repeatedly got to the tin through the narrowest of passages.
Most notably, he used a drop step and wormed his way to the iron for a bucket that made it 50-49 Eastland with about 25 seconds left. The expressions on media and fans alike were glaring: They couldn’t fathom how he was able to get to 0-foot range, let alone finish.
“Me neither,” Madison coach Jaime Cotto said. “He’s a crafty player down there.”
And he’s still driven. Hartman plans to decide next week whether he’ll play college ball at Cornell College (Mount Vernon, Iowa) or Monmouth College while working toward a business degree.
But for about 10 months, his solitary focus was reaching Friday afternoon. Better yet, Saturday’s 2 p.m. championship tilt. He’s having a hard time settling for a shot at bronze.
“My family pushed me, my teammates pushed me, and we made it a long way,” Hartman said. “It’s not what we want, but…”
What a runs it’s beenHartman’s postseason statsDate Result Points ReboundsFeb. 20 Eastland 67, AFC 41 18 5Feb. 22 Eastland 56, Polo 39 11 6Feb. 27 Eastland 62, Erie 41 18 4March 1 Eastland 49, Aquin 31 12 7March 6 Eastland 51, Newark 41 9 4Friday Madison 51, Eastland 50 18 3Average 14.3 4.8