EAST PEORIA — Isabella Jaeger fielded the slow roller, then met Minooka’s Marissa Burns in a fierce collision along the first-base line.
York’s sophomore first baseman got up after several minutes but had to leave her position with a bloody nose.
It was, yes, a bumpy day for the Dukes.
A surprising run to the state tournament hit a detour Friday, Minooka rallying for 4 runs in the sixth inning to beat York 6-3 in a Class 4A semifinal at Eastside Centre.
York (23-15) drops into the third-place game at 3 p.m. Saturday. There it will face No. 1-ranked Barrington, which lost in walk-off fashion to St. Charles East in Friday’s first semifinal.
“We got beat up a little physically today,” York coach Drew McGuire said, noting that Jaeger will be OK. “Something like that (collision), it kind of tells you what kind of day it’s going to be. But these girls have battled hard. We’ll regroup.”
York, which had gone 9-1 its last 10 games before Friday, rode a comeback wave to East Peoria. The Dukes rallied to beat Whitney Young in a regional final, then stunned Trinity in the seventh inning of a sectional final.
Minooka knows all about rallies, though.
The Indians (22-8) staged a comeback for the ages down 13-4 to beat Lockport 15-14 in a sectional semifinal.
Trailing 3-2 going into the sixth, Minooka drew a one-out walk off York’s Brooke Bandy, and a single brought No. 9 hitter Jordyn Larsen to the plate. The junior jumped on a 1-0 offering for a 3-run homer to right-center, her second of the year.
“We’ve been down more than one run before,” Larsen said, but also confessed, “it was getting a little scary.”
Minooka tacked on another run, and Sara Novak slammed the door on any thoughts of another York comeback. Novak threw four shutout innings of relief, striking out six.
“The Lockport game taught us that we could come back from any deficit. That one run, it was nothing,” Novak said. “We had been hitting a lot of hard balls; they just weren’t dropping.”
True, Minooka hit several loud outs off of Bandy. York’s center fielder Angela Scalzitti showed great range chasing down four of them, two near the fence.
“Ball goes up in the outfield, Angela’s going to find it,” McGuire said. “It was a tough day for Brooke in the circle, but she pitched her heart out.”
Minooka struck right away, Kelsey Smith drilling a 2-run homer in the top of the first. York answered in the bottom half, scoring 2 runs and sending eight batters to the plate. Freshman Abby Solem singled in Scalzitti for a 3-2 lead in the second, but the Dukes’ bats went quiet after Novak relieved Jackie Lilek to start the fourth.
“One hit, to break it open,” said McGuire wistfully, referring back to a first inning when York left the bases loaded. “It would have been nice to scratch a couple more across but it is what it is.”
Whatever the outcome this weekend, it’s been a run to remember for a York team with just one senior starter.
“Just to get down here is phenomenal,” McGuire said. “I’m so proud of these girls. They’ve been fantastic. The best thing about it is we get to come back tomorrow and play another game.”
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