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All-Metro baseball player of the year: Schmidt leads Borgia on magical run to landmark championship

All-Metro baseball player of the year: Schmidt leads Borgia on magical run to landmark championship

From the 2019 All-Metro baseball series

Joe Schmidt gets a reality check every day.

The recent Borgia High graduate still can’t believe the Knights put together a scintillating late-season run to capture the Class 4 baseball state championship just 15 days ago.

“I’ll be walking around town and someone I don’t know will come up to me and say, ‘Congratulations,’ " Schmidt said. “I’ll think to myself, ‘For what?’ And then it hits me — we really won the state title.”

Yes, Borgia did indeed capture its first baseball state championship.

And Schmidt — the Post-Dispatch All-Metro baseball player of the year — had a big role in the history-making campaign.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound third baseman and pitcher did a little bit of everything to make the dream become reality.

“He helped us out every way that was possible,” Borgia coach Rob Struckhoff said.

Schmidt hit seven home runs and drove in 39 runs, both team highs. He batted .423 with a whopping .722 slugging percentage.

But his biggest contribution surprisingly came on the mound, even though Struckhoff considers him “a position player first who also pitches.”

Schmidt tossed a no-hitter in a 5-0 semifinal upset of Helias, which was ranked first or second in the statewide poll most of the season. He struck out six and walked one in a stellar 86-pitch masterpiece. It was the 16th no-hitter in the history of the state tournament, which began in 1950.

If that wasn’t enough, Schmidt also triggered Borgia's offensive attack with a two-run homer in the second inning.

“I still can’t put it into words about how awesome it felt,” Schmidt said. “I got on the mound and everything was working that day. I was hitting my spots, my off-speed (pitch) was working and I just went after guys.”

Schmidt capped off the memorable two-day stretch with two hits and two RBI in a 13-1 win over tradition-rich Westminster in the Class 4 title game.

“He’s always been able to hit,” Struckhoff said. “But what he did on the mound capped everything off. He put it all together.”

Schmidt’s semifinal-round performance will go down as one of the most impressive final four efforts in state history.

“I’m not surprised he pitched well,” Struckhoff said. “You never expect a no-hitter. But he was that dominant.”

Schmidt learned the game from his father Todd, who played 61 games in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system in 1987-88.

“It’s all about the work and the time that he’s put in to improve his game,” Todd said. “I can give him a few pointers now and then. But it’s his determination that’s made him a better player.”

Schmidt went 4-2 on the mound with a 2.98 ERA in 11 starts after going just 1-for-3 in 14 appearances over the previous three seasons.

His ability to fill in the No. 2 spot in the pitching rotation behind Bryce Mayer played a key role in a six-game run in the district tournament and postseason where the Knights outscored their opponents 51-21.

Schmidt, a four-year varsity regular, pitched in a district title win over Union and a sectional triumph over Lutheran South, which beat Borgia in the previous eight meetings.

He said the district title win gave the Knights a much-needed shot of confidence. The Knights lost in district play in each of his first three seasons.

“It made us realize that there’s no reason we couldn’t win the whole thing,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt also is a terror on the football field. He was a second-team all state performer at defensive tackle.

But baseball has always been his first love.

“Even when he was little, he wanted to know everything about the game,” Todd said. “He’d ask questions, then he’d go out and put what he learned into place.”

Schmidt will continue his baseball career at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois. He hopes to be selected in the major league baseball draft somewhere down the road.

But for now, Schmidt, an avid hunter and fisherman, is reveling in the state title.

Even if he has to pinch himself from time to time to make sure it really happened.

“The best part about it is that I got it done with all my friends, guys I’ve been playing with almost all my life,” Schmidt said. “We got it done together, for this town. And that’s why it’s so special.”




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