EDWARDSVILLE - Have yourself a day Cade Hardy.
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The junior outfielder went 3-4 with five RBIs and three runs against the Belleville East Lancers in the Class 4A Sectional Semifinal game Wednesday night. He single-handedly batted in half of the runs scored by Edwardsville as they went en route to winning 10-0 over their new Southwestern Conference rivals.
Hardy faced arguably the best pitcher his team has seen all season, Zander Mueth. Mueth shut out the Tigers and ended their 22-game win streak back on May 5. Mueth struck out Hardy in his first at-bat yesterday.
Hardy came back up to bat again in the bottom of the third inning and knew what he had to do.
"My first at-bat I was seeing the ball well off Mueth, but he struck me out. So, I knew my second at-bat I had to come up and do something," Hardy said.
That's exactly what he did.
With runners on second and third, he managed to hit a single over the second baseman's head and into shallow center field. The center fielder ran onto the ball but misplayed it. The ball rolled all the way back toward the fence leading to a hectic inside-the-park home run for Hardy. Hardy is an iCAN Clinic, Male Athlete of the Month for the Tigers.
“I put a swing on the ball, and I made good contact and luckily it got past the center fielder and I kept running,” Hardy said postgame about the hit.
That play made it 5-0 Tigers, but Hardy was just getting started.
He stepped back into the batter's box in the bottom of the fourth once again with two runners on. This time he tripled down the line good for another couple of runs. He later scored after a wild throw to first.
In his final at-bat of the game in the sixth inning, he hit a leadoff single. He moved to second after a line out and was batted in by Cole Funkhouser for the game-clinching run. When he touched home plate it made it 10-0 and the game ended in walk-off fashion after six innings.
Now, Hardy and the Tigers get to continue their run toward state as they head into the Sectional Championship game this Saturday. They'll take on the winner between Minooka and Moline at 11 a.m. Saturday at Illinois Wesleyan University.
"It's awesome, we're just going to keep playing Tiger baseball. This momentum is just going to keep going with each win," concluded Hardy.