Tennant gives Prairie Ridge a liftPrairie Ridge second baseman Brad Schillinger (right) pivots on a double play as Corey Krupske (7) of Lincoln-Way North is forced out. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
While some pitchers take pride in their ability to strike batters out, Prairie Ridge’s Tyler Tennant does just the opposite.
The senior likes nothing more than letting hitters put the ball in play and let his defense do the work behind him.
“I definitely believe in my defense,” Tennant said with a smile. “I like to get grounders, pop flies for the defense. I’m not worried about getting strikeouts, just getting the outs.”
Coming into Monday’s game in relief in the fifth inning, Tennant threw three shutout innings to help Prairie Ridge earn a 4-2 win over Lincoln-Way North at Benedictine University in Lisle at the Phil Lawler Summer Classic, the state championship tourney for the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association playoffs.
“Tyler coming in shutting the door against a hell of a hitting team, I’m really proud of him,” Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro said.
Tennant earned the win, giving up two walks and a single to go with three strikeouts. Prairie Ridge (36-20) will play Neuqua Valley Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at North Central College in Naperville. A win would clinch a spot in Wednesday’s semifinals. A loss would force Prairie Ridge to play a second game Tuesday afternoon to advance.
Looking to get the last three outs in the top of the seventh, Tennant had a less than ideal start to the inning, issuing a walk to Josh Handzik and a single to Drew Korosik. Now facing the top of the order for Lincoln-Way North (17-3), the senior had his work cut out for him.
He induced a popup, a fielder’s choice, and a liner to center field to pitch out of the jam and clinch the win.
“You’re nervous, but that two-run lead was a nice cushion,” Tennant said. “I knew I could rely on just throwing strikes and get those outs.”
Held down by North starter Joe Cairo, Prairie Ridge managed a run each in the second and fifth as the score was tied two-all in the sixth. In the frame, Nick Samuels bunt single was thrown away by the North defense, allowing runners Christian Blatner and Mike Reitcheck to score what proved to be the winning runs.
“I’m telling my runners to freeze because I think the pitcher’s going to field the bunt, and it gets by him,” Pecoraro said. “They threw it away, and it works to our advantage not executing the bunt coverage. That’s the difference.”
Bryan Klendworth and Jordan Getzelman had an RBI each for Prairie Ridge. Starter Lucas Keller gutted his way through four innings, issuing six walks and three hits but leaving the game having given up just two runs.
“Lucas has been so good the last three weeks to a month for us,” Pecoraro said. “He definitely didn’t have as good of stuff as he had, but he battled and didn’t give up. (For Tuesday), we’ll play one at a time, and see how it works out. Neuqua is always good so we’ll give it our best shot and see how it goes.”