Burlington Central junior Michael Scott hasn't been used as a reliever since early on this season.
But Wednesday he was forced to.
He came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning with the tying run on first base. The right-hander got out of the jam with allowing only run -- that coming on an error -- as the top-seeded Rockets beat No. 4 Marengo, 8-4, in the semifinals of the Class 3A Hampshire baseball regional.
"I was just trying to throw strikes. The worst thing is given up a bases-loaded walk," Scott said. "I love when people are on base and just shut them down."
Central (25-10), which will play either Sycamore or Crystal Lake Central in Saturday's title game, led 6-2 heading into the top of the fifth. Starting pitcher Riley Jensen walked the leadoff batter and hit the next batter. Matt Conroy had an infield single to load the bases. Jensen then walked Justin Vogel, forcing in a run. Scott came in and got a foul popout to first. A dropped fly ball to left allowed a run to score to make it 6-3. But Scott struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
"That was the inning that decided it," said Marengo coach Josh Maas, who spent the last three years as an assistant at Central. "We constantly talk about two-strike approach and at least need to put it in play."
Scott got an inning-ended double play to end the sixth and went 1-2-3 in seventh for his third save.
Scott helped out at the plate as well. He went 2-for-4 and drove in a run in the second and another in the fifth. Ray Hunnicutt went 2-for-2 with a triple and a 2-run home run in the third. The senior scored three times, was hit once and added an RBI sacrifice fly.
"I don't know what was happening, just seeing the ball well," Hunnicutt said. "I guess it was just one of those days."
Zach Ranney had the big blow, a 3-run double, in the 4-run second.
Jensen (8-2) struggled with his control, but stuck around long enough to earn the victory. The senior went 4-plus innings. He allowed 3 hits, walked 4, hit a batter and struck out 2.
"It was an odd day for Riley," Rockets coach Kyle Nelson said. "Riley's MO all year has been throwing strikes and getting guys to hit groundballs. He just didn't have it. He did the best he could with what he had today."