Nathan Haacker’s walkoff homer gives Sycamore regional championship

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Nathan Haacker and his Sycamore teammates thought they got robbed Saturday on Jacob Schutta’s dramatic three-run, game-tying home run down the left-field line in the seventh inning.

So Haacker left nothing to chance by belting a walkoff, one-out home run to left-center in the bottom of the 10th to give the Spartans a 6-5 win over Burlington Central in the Class 3A Hampshire Regional championship game.

“I was just trying to hit the ball to right field,” said Haacker, a right-handed hitting catcher. “Coach has been telling us to do that all season long. It’s been working. But he threw me a pitch inside and I crushed it.”

Schutta had hit a homer down the line in left with no one out and two on in the top of the seventh. Sycamore (29-7) led 5-2 at the time, and when it was signaled a home run, a howling came forth from Sycamore’s dugout.

“We were very angry,” Haacker said. “We thought that was foul. That kind of took the wind out of our sails for a minute, but we got back in it, then came back and won it.”

Colan Treml, who threw a complete game three days earlier in the semifinals, came on to pitch shutout innings in the eighth, ninth and 10th for the win.

Central’s Brenden Bushy gave up the homer to Haacker for the loss.

Schutta had started and four Rockets pitchers held top-seeded Sycamore to six hits, but they walked 12.

“Haacker is a heck of a ballplayer,” Central coach Kyle Nelson said. “We were challenging there, late in the game. We wanted to make him beat us. We didn’t want to give him a free pass — we had put too many guys on base and that’s how they ended up scoring their runs earlier.

“He hit a fastball and good hitters do that. My hat’s off to him.”

Schutta had three hits for Burlington Central (20-12), while Tanner Smith and Bushy each drove in runs. Schutta’s homer was easily the key Central hit, even if the Spartans thought it was a foul ball.

“With the momentum that I thought we’d get from that, I thought it would really carry on and we’d take it from there,” Schutta said. “I thought both sides had a bunch of chances. It’s just that they came out on top.”

Sycamore moves on to the 3A Plano Sectional. Burlington Central finishes as co-champs of the Big Northern East with a senior-dominated lineup.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to coach them,” Nelson said. “They do everything we want our players to do, and are everything we want our program to be.”

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