O'FALLON — When they met April 1, the Helias Crusaders scratched out a 2-0 win against Joe Schmidt and the Borgia Knights.
The rematch in Thursday's Class 4 semifinal at CarShield Field left the Crusaders scratching their heads.
"I didn't see that coming," Helias coach Chris Wyrick said after Schmidt no-hit the Crusaders in a 5-0 victory for the Knights. "We're better offensively now than we were the first time we faced him."
The Crusaders hit just one ball to the outfield Thursday. And the balls they hit hard were right at Knight infielders.
"We had two good days of practice," Wyrick said. "Our offensive approach was good, we knew what he was going to throw. He was very good today, but we took way too many pitches for strikes.
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"When you let a pitcher get ahead with a fastball, when you don't attack it, you put yourself into a hole and make it tough to hit. We were not aggressive at the plate. When you know a guy is going to fill up the strike zone, you have to be aggressive."
Schmidt faced just two above the minimum Helias batters in the seven-inning contest. He walked one and struck out six in an 86-pitch effort.
"He was throwing his fastball and his curveball for strikes," Wyrick said. "And then he was getting us to chase when he got ahead in the count."
Helias got its first baserunner with two outs in the top of the third when Griffin Buschjost reached on an infield error. He moved to second on a wild pitch, the only Crusader to get into scoring position in the game, before a grounder to short ended the inning.
The Crusaders were already trailing 5-0 when they came up in the third.
Helias starter Zach Davidson retired the first two Borgia batters of the game on flyballs to right. Schmidt then drew a walk on a close 3-2 pitch the Crusaders thought was a strike that would have ended the inning. Courtesy runner Tyler Stieferman then stole second before Spencer Hunter walked.
Louis Eckelkamp then lined a single to score Stieferman to make it 1-0.
Borgia then got four runs in the second inning, again starting a rally with two outs. Davidson got a strikeout and fly out to left before Foster Lynchard hit a towering popup on the infield. The wind blew the ball back toward the base at second, falling about five feet to the right field side of the bag for a single.
"We should have caught that ball," Wyrick said.
Leadoff hitter Jack Czeschin followed with a double to right-center to score Lynchard to make it 2-0. Bryce Mayer singled home Czeschin before Schmidt drilled a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to make it 5-0.
"Just like the first, we should have been out of that inning without giving up a run," Wyrick said. "But that's baseball, you have to get calls and you have to make plays and we didn't in those two innings."
The Knights got just one more hit the rest of the way against Davidson, who walked three and struck out nine Thursday.
Helias' next baserunner came when Michael Snyder drew a two-out walk. But the inning ended on a grounder back to the mound.
"You have to be able to scratch across a couple of runs somewhere," Wyrick said. "But it's hard to win at this level against the way Schmidt threw the baseball."
Zach Woehr was hit by a pitch with one out in the sixth, but was erased on a double play to end the inning. In the seventh, Trevor Austin was hit by a pitch to start the inning. But after a strikeout, another double play ended the game.
"We didn't have a lot of great at-bats today, but we ran into a hot pitcher," Wyrick said. "And they made some good defensive plays against us."
The Class 4 third-place game was scheduled to be played this morning. But Wednesday night's rainouts of the Class 2 semifinals pushed those games to Thursday and the title game to this morning.
So after Thursday's game, the Crusaders were presented with a third-place trophy and individual medals. Class 2 also will not play a third-place game.
"The third-place game can be a tough game to play, but you want the chance to finish your season on a win," Wyrick said. "But it's not going to happen."
Helias ends its season at 23-5.
"When you win 23 of 28 ballgames, that's a heck of a season," Wyrick said."We're going to hold our heads high.
"We're not going to let this one game dictate how we feel about the entire season. We showed some guts just to get here."
The Crusaders will return six starters from Thursday's starting lineup.
"We know we have work to do to get back here next year to try to win a championship," Wyrick said.
Borgia (22-7) will face Westminster Christian (29-6) in the title game at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Westminster Christian defeated Savannah 10-0 in six innings in Thursday's second semifinal. Savannah also received a third-place trophy and medals.