Steimel's perfect game leads Arrows to 1st sectional title in 22 years
A freshman pitcher threw a perfect game to help the Sullivan Golden Arrows win their first sectional championship since 1993.
Sam Steimel struck out six batters while not issuing a walk or allowing a hit in seven innings, as the Arrows beat the Linton-Stockton Miners 3-0 Monday night in the Class 2A title game at Sullivan.
“He was phenomenal tonight,” Sullivan head coach Matt McLaren said. “Really, he overmatched them all night, and we had some good plays behind him too. John(athan) Cox had a diving catch, and Kade Plummer with a hell of a play. It was just a really good effort from everybody and a team win. But hats off to Sam for really just dealing tonight. He is just way beyond his years as far as baseball — I.Q., knowledge, talent — everything.”
The Sullivan defense was locked-in, with senior leaders coming up with big plays several times to preserve Steimel’s no-hitter.
In the top of the third inning, Cox, the senior right fielder, used his excellent speed to track down and make a highlight-worthy, diving catch. The next inning, senior second baseman Kade Plummer went parallel with the ground to knock down a hard hit by the Miner’s Trey Passen and his throw from the knees reached Turner in time for the out.
Arrows fielders made every play and finished without an error.
“Most perfect games or no-hitters come down to those two, three plays that save hits, and we just did a great job tonight of being in the right spot,” McLaren said. “We had a pretty good game plan going in defensively, and we executed really well. I am really proud of our guys.”
Steimel was appreciative of his teammates helping him to not have to face more than three batters each inning.
“We had the best defense in the state tonight,” the young hurler said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Though he did not realize it at the time, Steimel provided all the run support he would need in the bottom of the opening inning, when he reached base on a single, stole second base, took third on a wild pitch and came home on an Evan Conner single.
Still leading 1-0 in the third, senior Casey Garner reached first base on an error. He stole second and third before scoring the second Sullivan run of the night on another Conner single.
While Sullivan’s aggressive approach on the basepaths did not always pan out, it was effective in pressuring the Miners, who committed four errors in the game.
“It hurt us and helped us,” McLaren said. “We ran ourselves out of two innings, but, if (we) make mistakes, we just add runs.”
Mason Dean entered the game in the fourth inning and reached base after being struck by a pitch. After stealing second base and advancing to third on a Cox single, Dean scored on a ground out by Trevor Magill.
“It’s a team effort,” McLaren said. “Everybody was dialed in. We scratched out a few early, and it was enough with Sam on the mound. That’s why they call him ‘Big Game Sam.’”
Twenty-two years after their last sectional title, McLaren was relieved to win one in his fourth year as head coach, especially after a few heartbreaking exits from the tournament in his first few years.
“It’s what I came here for,” he said. “We came here to win championships. I am thankful for the opportunity the school and administration has given me. There was a lot of pressure on me this year, being the fourth year. I am just so proud of our program, our school and the kids. It is an exciting time.”
It was definitely an exciting moment for Steimel when he got final Linton-Stockton batter to fly out to right field.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I was ready to dogpile and get on that fire truck.”
The Arrows were carried away from the field aboard one of the local fire engines for a victory lap around the courthouse, and they will ride the thrill of winning a sectional championship into Saturday’s 11 a.m. first round game against Clarksville at the Providence Class 2A Regional Tournament.
“I think we have a lot of confidence coming in,” McLaren said. “We are going to go all out, and whatever happens, happens. It’s do or die time, and our kids are not ready to die.”
GOLDEN ARROWS 3, MINERS 0
Linton-Stockton 000 000 0 — 0 0 4
Sullivan 101 100 x — 3 4 0
Sullivan ab r h bi
C. Garner 3 1 0 0
S. Steimel 2 1 1 0
E. Conner 3 0 1 2
S. Sater 3 0 0 0
C. Turner 3 0 1 0
S. Garner 3 0 0 0
K. Wood 1 0 0 0
J. Cox 2 0 2 0
T. Magill 2 0 0 1
M. Dean 0 1 0 0
W. Arnett 1 0 0 0
Totals 23 3 5 3
Pitching ip h r er bb so
S. Steimel, W 7 0 0 0 0 6