Baseball: Plainfield North, Minooka set for key seriesPlainfield North's starting pitcher #18 Brendan Miller vs Plainfield South held at home and North won 8-5 on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2012 7:24PM
The Southwest Prairie Conference baseball championship will, most likely, be decided this week when three-time defending champion Plainfield North and Minooka lock horns.
The No. 1 Tigers were 23-3 overall and 13-2 in the SPC entering Tuesday’s first of three games between the teams scheduled for the week. No. 4 Minooka stood at 20-8, 12-3.
Plainfield North was to host Tuesday and Thursday, while Minooka’s home game is Wednesday.
“It should be three good games,” North coach John Darlington said. “Our players are excited to get the chance to play against a top program.”
And to face that program’s top pitchers. The Tigers’ plan was to come with Joe Cresta (6-0) on Tuesday, followed by Brendan Miller (7-0) at Minooka on Wednesday and Corey Evak (6-1) in the finale.
“It’s going to be good for us in the sense that we get to see some great pitching late in the year,” Darlington said.
Minooka dominated the first two years of SPC play, winning titles in 2007 and ’08. The latter of those seasons was North’s first with a varsity schedule, which the Tigers played without a senior on their roster, going 8-13.
Since then, the Tigers have owned the league, finishing first or second among its eight squads the past four years.
Their record during that span is 88-11. Minooka, in 12 games vs. the Tigers, has handed Plainfield North four of those 11 losses.
Last season, the Tigers outscored the Indians 26-15 during a sweep that dropped the Indians to third place in the final standings behind Plainfield South.
North opened the league season with a loss, won 13 in a row, then lost 8-2 Friday to Plainfield Central. Minooka has won nine straight league contests.
Joliet Catholic entered the week as one of four East Suburban Catholic teams with two losses in league play. The Hilltoppers, Carmel and Marist all were 8-2 and tied for first place, while Nazareth also had two losses.
The Hilltoppers (20-6-1) split with Carmel earlier this year. They visit Marist in an ESCC doubleheader Saturday and finish the league season with a home-and-home series with Nazareth, starting Monday in LaGrange.
Joliet Catholic is hitting .312 as a team and will look to pitchers Kevin Duchene (5-0, 0.20 ERA), Cal Placher (3-2, 2.12 ERA), Nate Searing (3-1, 2.85) and John Chignoli (2-1, 1.85 ERA) to pitch the Hilltoppers into at least a share of their third championship in the last four years.
SWSC Blue race heats up
Perennial SouthWest Suburban Blue champion Sandburg entered the week at 18-4-1 overall and 7-2 and atop the league standings, but the Eagles are not alone.
Joliet West (16-11, 6-3), Lockport (17-10, 6-3) and Lincoln-Way East (13-10, 5-3) are all stalking the leader.
The Tigers climbed back into the race after a slow start by winning four of their past five conference games. They split with Sandburg earlier this year and finish the conference season with games against Lincoln-Way Central, Joliet Central and Bolingbrook, twice.
Lockport has won five of six Blue games, which started with a 5-1 win over Joliet West. The Porters finish with two games each against Lincoln-Way Central and Joliet Central.
Lincoln-Way East’s home-and-home series against Sandburg begins Wednesday in New Lenox. The second game of the series is Friday in Orland Park. The Griffins end the league season with two games against Lincoln-Way Central.