With prom night looming, Galesburg head coach Jeremy Pickrel was a little concerned at how focused his team would be in a Western Big Six doubleheader against Rock Island.
"It's part of the high school experience, but you never know where the guys' minds are going to be," Pickrel said.
Despite not starting in either game, Ty Harter's mind was solely on the diamond as he struck out five batters in relief to shut the door on a 5-1 win in Game 1, then hit a pinch-hit, three-run double to spur the Silver Streaks to an 11-0, five-inning win in Game 2, giving Galesburg a share of the conference title with Moline.
"Just confidence and calming myself down, talking to myself and saying I can do it," Harter said of coming in off the bench. "We worked so hard for (the conference title) so we deserve it."
Harter's relief effort shut down a late Rock Island rally. With the Streaks (24-5, 9-1) holding onto a 5-1 lead, the Rocks (9-16-1, 3-7) loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning.
Harter struck out the next two batters, then struck out the side in the top of the seventh, a double from Carson James the only blemish on his outing.
"Just throw strikes. I hate walking people so my mentality was to just throw strikes," Harter said. "The strike zone was a little small so I was just trying to pound the strike zone as much as I can."
It was a missed opportunity for the Rocks, who mustered just two hits in the nightcap.
"You've got to adjust. I told the kids, you may know what the strike zone is, but you have to also figure out every game what is the umpire's strike zone, and you have to modify to that," Rock Island head coach Jay Wayland said. "I don't think we did a good job of that. (The home plate umpire) was giving them a lot of black and calling pitches off the plate, and we didn't adjust well to that. A ball doesn't have to be a strike to be hit for a base hit."
Spencer Hasselroth took the loss in Game 1 despite allowing just one earned run. Galesburg took a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to an error and led 2-0 after three innings. Vincent Esposito cut the lead in half with an RBI single in the fourth inning, but the Streaks scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning to pull away.
Hasselroth finished with six strikeouts in five innings but walked seven.
"I thought he did well and we didn't support him," Wayland said. "We made a key error. ... It's unfortunate we didn't support him, and we didn't make a couple of plays that we should have."
Galesburg broke open a scoreless game in the nightcap with a nine-run fourth inning. Already up 2-0, Harter's double upped the Galesburg lead to 5-0, which chased James, who started the game. Four more runners scored before the Rocks got out of the inning, then Nikolas Deligiannis drove in two of his four RBIs of the doubleheader in the fifth inning to cap the scoring.
That was more than enough for Galesburg pitcher Noah Matheny, who struck out 11 in five innings of work.
"Everything was working. The fastball, the changeup and the curveball, I could put them where I wanted, when I wanted," Matheny said. "I had great control of everything today. I think what gave me the edge was I stayed ahead in the count, got first pitch strikes and kept them guessing."