May 25—OLNEY — Camden Raddatz made his message short and sweet to his teammates before heading to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"Before I got up to bat, I told my teammates it's been a good game, but I'm going to walk it off right here," Raddatz said.
The Effingham second baseman did just that, hitting the second pitch he saw from Charleston hurler Luke Bonstetter up the middle for a game-winner that vaulted the Flaming Hearts into the Class 3A Olney (Richland County) Regional Finals.
Raddatz was confident in his abilities heading up to the plate, too.
"I called it and I knew; I went up there with confidence and knew it would pay off," Raddatz said. "I knew he threw curveballs a lot and so I was really focusing on picking up that spin early and after I saw that first pitch, I saw fastball up; I was sitting fastball second pitch and I got it and hit it as hard as I could. I just wanted to get into a gap somewhere."
Kaiden Nichols scored the winning run before racing over to Raddatz with the rest of his teammates and celebrating with him.
The Hearts scored their first run in the bottom of the first after Raddatz drew a walk, Quest Hull singled and Myles Maxedon drove in Raddatz on an RBI single.
The Trojans then responded in the top of the fourth.
William Applegate started the side with a single. He then stole second and reached third after a passed ball before scoring after Aiden Archibald hit a groundout.
Charleston finished the game with only three hits, while the Hearts finished with seven.
Spencer Fox, Evan Waymoth, Kaden Koeberlein and Jack Harper joined Raddatz, Hull and Maxedon with one.
Raddatz said that practice has paid off in that regard.
"We've been working in practice all the time on hitting the ball where it's pitched and it's really good to see it paying off. Coach always talks about working a count, working a count and having good ABs, Raddatz said. "Coach has done a good job preparing us for these games."
Likewise, pitcher Josh McDevitt also does well at preparation.
That showed, once again, on Thursday.
"We knew what we were going to get with them. We knew that they hunt fastballs and they're good at hitting fastballs," McDevitt said. "Luckily, I thought my curveball was pretty decent; I threw a couple of sliders, as well, and overall, we just battled the whole game. I'm super proud of our hitters."
McDevitt finished the game with two walks to 11 strikeouts to go along with the three hits and one unearned run.
He threw 102 pitches in eight innings, as well.
McDevitt said that his body usually wears down that late in the game. He had to battle through for his teammates, though, nonetheless.
"By that point, your body is getting pretty tired and you're not throwing that hard, but you got to gut through it," McDevitt said.
Effingham will face Marion for the regional championship on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Head coach Curran McNeely hopes Saturday won't be his last time coaching this group, either.
"Just a fun group of kids to be around. They love each other, play for each other and pick each other up," McNeely said. "They lean on each other throughout the ball game and it showed today."
Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or email@example.com.