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Ott helps guide Freeburg into Class 2 baseball title game with another comeback win

Ott helps guide Freeburg into Class 2 baseball title game with another comeback win


NORMAL — Freeburg High senior catcher Hayden Ott didn't give it a second thought.

Neither did his teammates.

The Midgets, faced with another early deficit, rallied for a 5-3 win over Normal University High on Friday in a Class 2A semifinal baseball contest at Illinois State University's Duffy Bass Field.

Freeburg (35-3), which has won 14 in a row, will face Elmhurst Timothy Christian (21-7) for the state championship at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Midgets will be making their first title game appearance since losing to Stanford Olympia in the 2002 title contest. They are searching for their second championship to go with a Class A title in 1989.

Normal (31-4) bolted out to a 3-0 lead and appeared to be cruising behind hurler Matt Sauser, who retired the first seven batters on 31 pitches.

But the Midgets were just biding their time. After all, they fell behind Harrisburg 7-0 in super-sectional play on Monday before rallying for a 15-8 win.

"Obviously, we know how to play from behind," Ott said.

Freeburg simply went to work pushing across five runs in the bottom of the third inning to take control.

"That (early deficit) doesn't really matter to us," Freeburg manager Drew Gericke said. "It's baseball. You've got to get a feel for what that pitcher does."

The Midgets solved Sauser, at least during one big inning. They were set down in order in their other five innings at the plate.

"Kind of strange — but we got it done," Ott said.

Ott broke open the game with a two-run hit that snapped a 3-3 tie. Standout Colin Brueggemann started the rally with a two-run single. He scored the tying run by rambling home from third on a wild pitch. Eli Hoerner and Jacob Blomenkamp also had key hits in the uprising that saw six of seven hitters reach base safely after the first seven batters failed.

The Pioneers set down the final 10 hitters.

Freeburg pitcher Lane Otten improved to 8-0 with a gutsy complete-game effort. He surrendered three runs on five hits but battled out of several jams. Otten, the lone sophomore on the roster, wriggled out of a two-on, one-out situation with a pair of strikeouts to end the sixth.

"The kid is as tough as nails," Gericke said.

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