Baseball: Minooka slips past Plainfield South in regional final
Updated: May 26, 2012 7:40PM
Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic, stationed in the third-base coach’s box, said he was sending Alex Bebar all the way.
As it was, Bebar scored easily from second base on T.J. Condon’s two-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Minooka a heart-stopping 2-1 victory over Southwest Prairie Conference rival Plainfield South in the championship game of the Class 4A Minooka Regional.
The Indians (24-13) advance to the semifinals of the Bloomington Sectional at Illinois Wesleyan, where they will meet Moline at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The Cougars (22-14), who won two of three from Minooka in their SPC series, did not go quietly.
“South is a really gutsy team,” Petrovic said. “They play hard and are well coached. This was really an exciting high school baseball game. You wish every game could be like this.”
As long as the ol’ ticker can take it.
Minooka senior right-hander Kevin Ruff and South sophomore lefty Trevor Henderson locked up in a classic pitchers’ duel.
The Indians had runners on second base in four of the first five innings — twice with nobody out — and failed to score, including losing a runner to a missed sign on a suicide-squeeze attempt. South had two runners on in the second, Ryan Turk’s leadoff double in the third, a runner on second with one out in the fifth and a leadoff double by John Smith in the sixth, yet came up empty.
Minooka ace left-hander Josh Jimenez, who had thrown more than 100 pitches in Wednesday’s semifinal shutout of Plainfield Central, entered with one out and Smith on third in the sixth and struck out South’s 3-4 hitters.
Joe Carnagio’s two-out single in the bottom of the sixth knocked in Max Brozovich, who had reached on his second hit of the day and stolen second, for the game’s first run.
Petrovic was on his way to tell the umpire that Ruff was re-entering as the pitcher in the seventh when he saw Jimenez running to the mound.
“Josh told us he could give us a couple innings,” Petrovic said. “I put him out there in the sixth because he is a strikeout pitcher, and we needed a strikeout.”
But Jimenez’s hopes to save the game for Ruff took a hit when junior Tyler Butler, South’s hottest hitter, nailed a first-pitch fastball over the center-field fence to open the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, with Henderson still pitching, Bebar reached on a one-out error and stole second.
With two outs, second baseman Smith dove and gloved Condon’s hit in the hole. In his haste to get up and throw, the ball flipped from his glove as Bebar raced home.
“I went up there trying to hit it solid,” Condon said. “I thought it was going through, but I was going as fast as I could to make sure I got to first.”