Baseball: Grant knocks off Minooka for Class 4A third-place trophy
Updated: June 9, 2012 7:30PM
Grant capped its improbable postseason run with a convincing 7-1 victory over Minooka in the Class 4A third-place game Saturday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. And the Bulldogs earned their first state trophy in impressive fashion, by knocking out one of the area’s hotter pitchers.
Minooka right-handed pitcher Kevin Ruff (8-6) entered the game fresh off throwing a perfect game in the sectional final against a tough O’Fallon club. For the first three innings, the Bulldogs (28-14) were stymied by Ruff’s three-pitch mix, too.
“I was a little worried,” said Grant coach Dave Behm, who’s in his third year at the Fox Lake school. “When a kid throws a perfect game, while it’s just one game, it slips into the back of your mind a little.”
Then the fourth inning came.
Grant broke through in a big way, pounding out an amazing eight hits, including five straight at one point. By the time the lengthy fourth inning was done, Ruff was out of the game and Grant led 6-1. Junior center fielder Jake Ring delivered the big two-run single, and sophomore Tino Torres had two hits and an RBI in the inning.
“The fourth inning we kind of changed our approach a little bit,” Behm said. “We’ve had big innings all season, so it was nothing new.”
Everything seemingly went Grant’s way in the fourth inning, including a perfect suicide squeeze bunt by Jacob Adams that went for a single, and a bloop single that dropped over the first baseman’s head.
“Everything just found a hole and it just snowballed,” said Ruff.
Meanwhile, Grant’s defense made one superlative play after another to snuff out any Minooka (25-13) rally. Sophomore left fielder Ryan Noda robbed Joe Carnagio of extra-bases with two outs and two men on in the third inning, and junior third baseman Tyler Gorski made two acrobatic catches.
It all added up to Minooka stranding 13 base-runners.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic. “We didn’t play poorly. We just didn’t get any timely hits and had that one bad inning.”
Eight different Grant players collected hits in the game. Ring finished with three RBI, and Noda scored two runs and had a double.
Sophomore catcher Simeon Lucas enjoyed a breakout two-day tournament. The 6-2, 190-pound left-handed hitter went 4-for-7 in two games with a two doubles and two RBI. He also pitched well in relief, working three scoreless innings behind an 82-83 mph fastball.
Minooka was led by shortstop Tyler Thorson, second baseman Nick Fleischauer and left fielder Nick White, who had two hits apiece.