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.”
ALL-METRO FIRST TEAM
Pitcher • Nathan Beaton, junior, Vianney
The junior right-hander helped guide the Golden Griffins to the Class 5 state quarterfinals by posting a 7-2 record with a staggering 0.57 ERA. He allowed five earned runs over 61 innings pitched and collected 53 strikeouts while leading a restocked Vianney team to a 27-win campaign. He also held opponents to just a .145 batting average.
Pitcher • Kyle Potthoff, senior, Marquette
The imposing right-hander led the Mustangs to their first Class 5 state title game appearance with an 8-1 record. The Rutgers signee posted a 1.96 ERA over 39 1-3 innings pitched and struck out 50 at the head of deep Mustangs pitching rotation. He held opponents to a .224 batting average and a .237 slugging percentage.
Catcher • Jimmy Obertop, senior, Westminster
The Michigan signee powered the Wildcats to a Class 4 state runner-up finish. The power-hitting right-hander led Wesminster in most offensive categories: batting average (.490), home runs (9), RBI (48), triples (4) and doubles (12). He helped a pitching staff that guided Westminster to a 29-win campaign and had a .989 fielding percentage from behind the plate.
Infield • Mark Branz, senior, Gibault
Helped lead the Hawks to a Class 1A runner-up finish. The right-hander guided Gibault to a 27-win season with a team-leading .442 batting average. He collected 26 RBI and scored 49 times for a potent offense that run-ruled four opponents in the postseason and scored 10 or more runs in five of the seven postseason games. He also had a 9-1 pitching record.
Infield • Drake Westcott, junior, Edwardsville
Left-hander was one of the most feared bats in the area and helped lead Tigers to the Class 4A state championship, their first state title since 1998. The Louisville pledge posted a .380 batting average and led Edwardsville with nine home runs and 39 RBI. The danger of his bat garnered him enough respect to tie for the area lead in walks with 36.
Infield • Jacob Hager, junior, Lutheran South
One of the premier power hitters in the area, Hager helped lead potent Lancers' offense attack on the way to a district title. He tied for area's home run lead with 11. He had a .419 batting average and led Lancers with 41 RBI and had a .914 slugging percentage. He also had a 5-1 pitching record with a 2.63 ERA.
Outfield • David Olejnik, senior, St. Louis Patriots
Western Illinois signee was one of the top hitters in the area and helped Patriots claim Homeschool World Series Association Division II bracket title. Olejnik hit for a .480 batting average and .929 slugging percentage. He had nine home runs, nine triples, 12 doubles and led the area with 57 RBI. He also scored 52 runs.
Outfield • Drew Dant, senior, Mater Dei
Helped lead the Knights to their first 20-win season since 2011 and first regional championship since 2012 before losing in a Class 2A sectional final. The right-hander led Mater Dei with a .530 batting average, seven home runs and 33 RBI. He also had a 3-1 pitching record with a 2.10 ERA in six games started.
Outfield • Colin Bergmann, senior, CBC
St. Louis University signee helped guide Cadets to a district championship and a 21-win season. The power-hitting right-hander led CBC with a .446 batting average and a .967 slugging percentage. He also was tied for the area lead in home runs with 11 and collected a team-high 39 RBI and scored 41 times.
Utility • Alex Logusch, junior, De Smet
University of Indiana commit helped guide De Smet to the Class 5 championship, the program's first since state title 2000. Right-hander did a bit of everything for the Spartans as he carried a .338 batting average and a .437 slugging percentage. Limited Rock Bridge to one run in 7 2-3 innings in a quarterfinal upset victory. Had 3-4 pitching record against a rugged schedule with a 1.93 ERA and 35 strikeouts.
Utility • Bryce Mayer, junior, Borgia
Helped guide the Knights to the Class 4 championship, which was the first state title in program history. Mayer had a .376 batting average and two home runs with 21 RBI and had a 6-0 pitching record with a 2.40 ERA. Pitched 13 1-3 innings in three postseason games, including complete-game victory in title game.
ALL-METRO SECOND TEAM
Pitcher • Dustin Crawford, sophomore, Waterloo
The sophomore right-hander helped guide the Bulldogs to a Class 3A third-place finish. Posted a 12-2 record on the mound, throwing an area-high seven complete games, and had a 1.51 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched.
Pitcher • Josh Abel, senior, De Smet
When the lights were the brightest, the senior left-hander shined. Carried a 7-1 record with a minuscule 0.78 ERA and led the team with 46 strikeouts. In 21 postseason innings pitched, he didn't allow a run and struck out 16 and picked up three complete-game wins.
Catcher • Kurtis Byrne, senior, CBC
The TCU signee helped lead the Cadets to a district championship. The senior right-handed carried a .419 batting average, collected 13 doubles with five home runs and 19 RBI from the leadoff position.
Infield • Josh Gibson, senior, O'Fallon
The senior burned up the basepaths all season as he led the area with 50 stolen bases. The slick-fielding shortstop also held a .402 batting average with seven home runs and 34 RBI. The senior rewrote the O'Fallon record books with 98 stolen bases for a career.
Infield • Tyler Fogarty, senior, Chaminade
The Notre Dame signee helped guide the Red Devils to a 21-win season. The shortstop led the team with a .398 batting average and a .651 slugging percentage. He had three home runs and 12 doubles with 11 RBI and only committed four errors all season.
Infield • Shane Wilhelm, senior, Columbia
The University of Missouri signee did it all for the Eagles. The right-hander posted a .311 batting average with a team-high four triples and 19 RBI. The fireballer held a 6-2 record with a 1.14 ERA in 61 1-3 innings pitched and 95 strikeouts.
Outfield • Tim Reinholz, junior, Gibault
The junior left-hander was a force with a bat and on the mound for the Hawks. The lefty held a .404 batting average with a .725 slugging percentage and led the team with five home runs and 43 RBI. He held a 3-2 record on the mound with a 3.43 ERA.
Outfield • Dalton Grantham, senior, Francis Howell
The senior led the Vikings to another district championship while leading Francis Howell with a .432 batting average. He had seven doubles and collected 24 RBI while collecting eight assists from the outfield.
Outfield • Hayden Moore, sophomore, Edwardsville
The Missouri State commit helped lead the Tigers to a Class 4A state championship. He had a .377 batting average with a .667 slugging percentage. He had four home runs and 25 RBI from the leadoff position.
Utility • Hunter Miller, senior, Marquette
The right-hander helped lead the Mustangs to their first-ever state championship appearance while carrying a .374 batting average. He had four home run with 29 RBI and a .598 slugging percentage and scored 30 runs.
Utility • Spencer Hunter, senior, Borgia
The power-hitting first baseman for Borgia helped the Knights capture their first state championship. He led the team with .430 batting average and a .848 slugging percentage, tied for the lead with seven home runs and 31 RBI.
ALL-METRO THIRD TEAM
Pitcher • Joey Kossina, junior, Belleville West
Kossina led the Maroons to a regional championship and posted two no-hitters. He also held a 5-2 record with a 2.37 ERA and struck out a team-high 56.
Pitcher • Connor Wehmeier, senior, Orchard Farm
Wehmeier led the Eagles to a district championship and carried a 9-1 record with a 3.35 ERA and had a team-high 64 strikeouts on the mound.
Catcher • Riley McCarthy, junior, Valmeyer
Led the Pirates with a .453 batting average and a .726 slugging percentage. He had five triples, one home run and 36 RBI as Valmeyer captured its third straight regional title.
Infield • Tyler Bastunas, senior, Timberland
The co-GAC player of the year led the Wolves with a .479 batting average with a .753 slugging percentage. He had 16 RBI and three triples with 28 runs scored.
Infield • Braden Spawr, senior, Valley Park
Helped offensively lead the Hawks to a Class 3 district championship with a .465 batting average. He also collected four triples, three home runs and 33 RBI with 30 runs scored.
Infield • Garrett Weiner, senior, Alton Marquette
The senior infielder carried a .409 batting average with a .830 slugging percentage. He scored an area-high 51 runs, collected a team-high 38 RBI and had eight home runs for the Explorers.
Outfield • Chase Krogman, senior, Liberty
The Co-GAC player of the year and MLB-draft pick held a .392 batting average with five home runs, 34 RBI and 28 runs scored and a .722 slugging percentage.
Outfield • Nick Shields, senior, Bayless
The area-leader in triples (8) posted a .480 batting average with a .860 slugging percentage. He had a team-high 26 RBI and stole 15 bases.
Outfield • Blaise Matheny, senior, Westminster
The senior outfielder and Missouri State commit helped the Wildcats return to the state championship game. He held a .411 batting average and collected 26 RBI with three triples and 10 doubles and scored 31 times.
Utility • Evan Gray, senior, Belleville East
One of the hardest throwers in the area posted a 4-4 record on the bump with 84 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. He also led the team with 45 RBI and posted a .374 batting average and had five home runs.
Utility • Adam Stroup, senior, Hancock
The area-leader in batting average led the Tigers to a district championship appearance. He posted a .569 batting average with .723 slugging percentage with 17 RBI and scored 24 times.