Baseball: Matt Miller pitches Aurora Central to regional winAurora Central pitcher, Matt Miller helped lead the Chargers to a regional shutout victory over Seneca on Monday, May 14, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 14, 2012 8:28PM
Aurora Central Catholic pitcher Matt Miller could tell right when he began to warm up for Monday’s Class 2A Seneca Regional quarterfinal against Seneca that his breaking pitches felt good.
That was bad news for the Celtics.
They constantly waved and missed as Miller threw both his curveball and slider for strikes in a sparkling performance in a 3-0 ACC win. Miller went the distance, scattering four hits, striking out 11 and walking none.
“He was throwing both for strikes,” ACC coach Eric Fulara said. “You can’t say enough about Matt. When he’s on, he’s amazing, and he was on today. He had the slider and curve working, and when they were thinking that, he came back with the heat. He just did a great job today.”
Unlike in many of his starts this season, Miller (5-4 despite an ERA under 2.00) got some run support early from his Chargers teammates. Andrew Salapatek and Matt Czerak led off the bottom of the first with singles and both eventually scored to open a 2-0 lead.
The third-seeded Chargers (13-17) then tacked on an unearned run in the third as Salapatek reached on an error and scored all the way from first on an errant pick-off attempt.
“Early in the season, we were struggling scoring runs early,” Miller said. “Lately, we’ve won four in a row, so we’re peaking at the right time. We’ve been playing a lot better. The early runs helped me a lot. It was a big confidence-booster for the team.”
Seneca pitcher Josh Rohder (2-3) didn’t throw a bad game at all, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits in six innings. But he didn’t get any offensive support against Miller as sixth-seeded Seneca saw its season end with a 7-29 record.
“When they got a two-run lead, that must look like a lot with that kid on the mound,” Seneca coach Kurt Houchin said. “I’m not sure if that’s a slider or a hard curve. We were swinging three feet over it all night long and we didn’t make any adjustment to it. We weren’t getting a good read on it at all. I take my hat off to him. He’s one of the best pitchers we’ve seen.”
ACC advances to Thursday’s semifinal at Seneca against second-seeded Coal City.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Fulara said. “There’s a reason they’re a two seed. We’ll come back with one of our other guys (on the mound), hopefully not have to use Matt too much.”