Baseball: Brendan Miller, Plainfield North settle in, knock off Benet
Updated: May 26, 2012 4:50PM
Brendan Miller and his Plainfield North teammates overcame a rough start to post a 3-2 victory over Benet Saturday for a 4A Baseball Regional title.
The Redwings’ Chris Whelan smacked the opening pitch down the third-base line for a leadoff double as No. 9-seeded Benet (19-17) pushed two runs home in an effort to knock out the top seed of the Romeoville Sectional. But Miller settled down after that to keep his record unblemished (11-0) and limit the Redwings in three-up, three-down fashion five times over the final six frames.
“This was a big game and I guess I was a little nervous at the start, but thanks to my defense we were able to minimize the damage,” Miller said. “As the game went on, my offense gave me more confidence and I was able to use my pitches more effectively.”
“I thought he got stronger as the game went on,” said North coach John Darlington. “We turned several big double plays and did enough offensively to battle back, and then we had a senior captain step up just as you would hope, and hit one off the fence.”
Plainfield North’s lead-off batter in the fourth (Joe Cresta) was hit by a pitch, moved up on a Colton Smith sac bunt prior to a walk to Zach Trust followed by consecutive singles from Kurt Palandech and Kyle Bledsoe to negate Benet’s initial lead.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, Matt Fenza reached on a fielder’s choice and got in scoring position by stealing second. That’s when Caleb Kissell’s blast wedged under the left field fencing for a double and what became the game-winning RBI.
“Their pitcher was throwing a good game but had one mistake with a curve that was up a bit,” Kissell explained. “It was there to hit so I drove it, once I saw the outfielder’s back, it really felt good because the big thing wasn’t an extra-base hit, but getting the run in.”
The Tigers (33-4) advance to Wednesday’s 5 p.m. semifinal against Naperville Central, a 5-1 winner Saturday over regional host Downers Grove South. Despite his complete game, Benet’s Bobby Hayes (5-5) was tagged with the loss.
‘‘All year long I don’t know anyone who would have expected us to play for a regional title, but from the start today, our guys looked at North like just another team to play hard against,” Benet coach Scott Lawler said. “Bobby closed out our win over Downers (Grove North on Thursday, yet he said this morning ‘I’ll give you seven (innings)’, that’s the kind of senior leadership we’ve had and why everyone saw two good teams compete hard from the start.