BELLEVILLE — When "Sid" takes the mound for Fairview Heights Post 978, the game plan is not pitching to contact.
Alex Siddle rode his blazing fastball through 7 1/3 hitless innings Thursday and struck out 12 as Fairview Heights nailed down the American Legion District 22 South Division title with an 8-2 victory over Smithton.
Darin Pitts was 3-for-5 with an RBI for Fairview Heights while Logan Reno drove in three runs and Danny Hughes had a double and two-run homer.
Fairview Heights (25-9) will face Murphysboro at 3:30 p.m. Monday in a first-round game at the double-elimination Fifth Division Tournament in Pinckneyville.
"I felt good; I haven't thrown in about two weeks so I knew my arm was fine," said Siddle, a Southeast Missouri State recruit who did not allow a hit until Joe Kapp's infield single with one out in the eighth inning.
Facing a win-or-go home scenario after losing 5-1 to Smithton the night before, Siddle helped create an air of confidence for Fairview Heights by consistently wearing out the catcher's mitt of Aaron Krummrich.
Siddle did walk eight batters and walked the bases loaded in the second before striking out Kapp to end the threat.
"When he finds it, he's tough," Fairview Heights manager Craig Steiner said of Siddle, who will pitch and possibly play first at SEMO. "Occasionally he'll get a little bit wild but you know what? When you've got some of the stuff that he's got, that's not bad.
"Sid told me last night he wanted the ball, we didn't want to deny him. He was ready to go."
After Kapp's infield hit broke up the no-hitter in the eighth, Siddle issued a walk before Brian Delong smashed an RBI double to right that broke up the shutout.
An RBI groundout by James Simms pushed in another run, but a strong defensive play at short by Logan Reno kept Simms from reaching first.
Fairview Heights reliever Darius Box got the final four outs to secure the victory.
Smithton (10-15) fell behind 5-0 early and never recovered. Brendan Neuner, pitching with a pulled muscle near his ribcage, allowed three runs over six innings in relief of starter Brady Coke.
"(Brendan) came in and shut them down, kind of stopped the bleeding," said Smithton manager Dean Neuner. "But unfortunately Siddle ... we were having a hard time hitting him. I guess anybody would have had a hard time hitting him tonight."
Fairview pushed across five runs in the first two innings.
A Smithton throwing error and Siddle's RBI groundout accounted for two runs in the first and Fairview tacked on three more runs the following inning.
After a double by Hughes and single by Joel Yates, Pitts followed with an RBI single to left. Vinnie Birk also singled before Reno crushed a two-run double to left to make it 5-0.
Reno drove in another run in the fourth and Hughes smacked a two-run homer to right in the fifth as Fairview's lead grew to 8-0.
Smithton got its two runs in the eighth, but had few baserunners outside of the walks allowed by Siddle.
"At least we went down kicking a little bit I guess," Dean Neuner said. "One thing I think we kind of proved this year through these playoffs is that man for man we stack up with the best teams in our district.
"We got a lot further than anybody expected us to and I'm really proud of these guys. They did a great job."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.