Johnson Creek and Deerfield shared the Trailways South baseball title, along with Palmyra-Eagle.
A regional final between the Bluejays and Demons turned out to be a handy way to settle things.
Deerfield grabbed an early 2-0 lead on Cal Fisher’s two-run homer in the first inning, but visiting Johnson Creek rallied with two runs in the fifth and three in the seventh to claim a 5-2 victory on Wednesday.
Fisher hit the Bluejays hard early. They hit him hard late.
Deerfield (17-5) took the early lead when Jack McDonough led off with a ground ball single to left off Johnson Creek starter Bow Hartwig. One out later, Fisher took a 1-1 pitch out of the yard and the Demons led 2-0.
“First inning, we had an open base, and we decided to pitch to Cal Fisher,” Johnson Creek baseball coach Marc Blakeley said. “Mistake on my part. Two-run bomb, right center, absolutely crushed. Kid’s a great player. He battled us.”
On the mound, Fisher was equally tough, holding Johnson Creek scoreless through the first four innings. He worked around a first inning error and a second inning walk, then pitched out of a jam in the third inning when the Bluejays led off with a walk and a base hit. He retired the side in order in the fourth.
Johnson Creek (18-7) finally got to Fisher in the fifth. No. 9 hitter Wyatt Owen led off with a fly ball single to left and leadoff hitter Taylor Joseph drove him in with an RBI double to right. With two outs, Braden Walling tied the game with an RBI double to left.
The Bluejays took control with the winning rally in the seventh.
Ian Heald hit a ground ball and reached on an error to lead off. Owen sacrificed him over and Joseph broke the tie with his second RBI double of the game to make it 3-2. Hartwig followed with an RBI double to right and Walling drove him in with a line drive single to right to give the Bluejays a three-run cushion.
“What I was proud of was, first time through the line up, I think we struck out five, maybe six times,” Blakeley said. “The second time through, we hit a couple balls real hard. The third time through, we finally busted it open.”
Hartwig was lights out after the Fisher home run, allowing just three walks and no hits over the rest of his 6 2/3 innings of work. He was one out away from closing this one out when he reached his pitch count limit.
Reliever Dalton Bredlow gave up a two-out double to Bene Lemke, but got Tommy Lees to fly out to end it.
Johnson Creek had its season ended in a regional final by Deerfield in 2019, and the Demons swept the Bluejays during this regular season, so it had been awhile since they had tasted victory over their league rival.
“They swept us earlier this year,” Blakeley said. “They are a great team. Scott (Gloede) does a great job with them, and they have a couple really good players. But that was the second week of the season. We wanted to get another crack at them. We got continuously better every week and we put together a complete game tonight. That’s what you need to do to beat a really good team like that.”
JOHNSON CREEK 5, DEERFIELD 2
Johnson Creek 000 020 3 — 5 8 0
Deerfield 200 000 0 — 2 3 3
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-so-bb) — JC (Hartwig W, 6.2-2-2-2-6-3, Bredlow 0-1-0-0-0-0), D (Fisher L, 6.1-5-3-2-8-2, Matheson 0.2-3-2-2-0-0)
Leading hitters — JC (Joseph 3x4, 2 2B, 2BI, Hartwig 2B, RBI, Walling 2x4, 2B, 2BI), D (Fisher HR, 2BI, Lemke 2B)