SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Brown County baseball coach Jared Hoots struggled a little to come up with an apt description for Colby Wort’s effort.
“He is a competitive animal,” Hoot said. “Whatever adjective you want to use, go for it. The slang would be a dog. Some people say a competitive fire. I don’t know what it is.”
Freshman second baseman Maverick Henry knew exactly what to call the junior right-handed pitcher.
“Colby’s a dog,” Henry said. “He stuck it out and got the ‘W.’”
It’s the biggest “W” in the history of Brown County baseball to date.
Wort worked seven innings in Monday’s Class 1A Springfield Super-Sectional against Carrollton, retiring eight of the nine final batters he faced and guiding the Hornets to a 4-3 victory and a berth in the state final four for the first time ever.
He struck out three, walked one and used every one of his 103 pitches to keep Carrollton from building any rhythm at the plate.
“He was amazing,” Brown County catcher Eathan Howell said. “He was hitting his spots perfectly. His breaking balls were there on the corners. He dug in there and worked hard.”
When the Hawks put a runner on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and Grant Pohlman looming in the on-deck circle, Wort knew
“It was very tense,” Wort said. “A lot of things were going through my mind — just throw strikes, get the next batter, things like that. But I was also thinking, ‘I’ve got to do this for these guys. I’ve got to get them another game. All I have to do for the rest of the season is finish this last out.’”
There was nothing easy about it.
Wort got Gus Coorod, the Hawks’ No. 2 hitter, to hit a ground ball to shortstop Tyce Fullerton, who fielded it cleanly and flipped to second baseman Maverick Henry for a forceout of Carrollton’s Kyle Leonard. Henry was upended as he pivoted to throw to first base for a possible double play, resulting in an interference call that ruled Coonrod out and ended the game.
“It was crazy tense,” Brown County first baseman Mason Henry said. “They had the top of the order coming up, and I knew Colby was getting to the end of his pitch count. So I knew he had to work and bear down, and he did it. A little defense at the end saved it.”
When infield umpire Doug Elledge made the interference call, the Hornets’ dugout erupted.
“I saw the right arm come up, my hat came off and everybody probably thought I was a fool because I was jumping up and down,” Hoots said.
And the first person he hugged was Wort, whose bulldogged effort led to the celebration.
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