River Pitlock was simply tired of strikeouts.
As York's starting pitcher he struck out 10 Willowbrook batters. As the Dukes' No. 2 hitter in the lineup, the senior struck out three times himself at the plate.
So when Pitlock batted in the bottom of the seventh Thursday at Schaumburg High School, he tried something different. Much different.
Pitlock drove in the game-winning run with a two-out RBI single that gave York a 2-1 victory over Willowbrook in the Class 4A Schaumburg regional baseball semifinals.
"When you strike out four times in a game they call it the golden sombrero, and I didn't want to get that," Pitlock said. "And, frankly, I didn't want to pitch another inning. It feels good. We've been a little shaky this whole season, but now we want to start rolling."
A dropped third strike set up the bottom of the seventh walk-off. Louis Alcaraz reached first base when Willowbrook starter Dave Cericola struck him out -- one of his nine strikeouts on the day -- but the ball got away from catcher Dom McDonnell. A fouled bunt for a third strike notched the first out before Kevin Toomey reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on Josh Paparone's single.
Cericola, the Warriors' ace who allowed 5 hits, struck out Pitlock the first three times he came to the plate but this time Pitlock launched a ball down the left-field line that easily scored Toomey with the game-winner from second base.
"I could think of a million things, but it was just a good baseball game," said Willowbrook coach Vic Wisner. "Sometimes you just come out on the wrong end."
Cericola and Pitlock kept the game scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when Alcaraz drove in courtesy runner Dan Cirone with a two-out single. Willowbrook tied it at 1-1 in the sixth when Dom Battaglia came home on Mike Rothmund's single to right-center field.
Willowbrook (22-11) tried to drive in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh when Brian Johnson and Kevin Johnson laced back-to-back one-out singles. Pitlock, however, struck out the next two batters to set the stage for his heroics in the bottom of the inning.
"It was a battle of wills," said York coach Dave Kalal. "They were having good at-bats, we were having good at-bats. The pitching was outstanding. It was just a fun game to be a part of."
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