Cary-Grove right-handed pitcher Nick Franz received something on Friday Grayslake North lefty Andrew Mikusa has been pining for all season: run support.
Franz and Mikusa tossed dueling complete-game 4-hitters in a Fox Valley Conference crossover under sunny skies in Cary, but the Trojans found a way to manufacture a pair of runs in a 2-0 victory.
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Grayslake North (8-11, 3-5) has scored 1 run in the 30-plus innings Mikusa has pitched. He entered the matchup with an ERA of 0.50 and struck out 11 Trojans, but his record dipped to 0-3.
"It's brutal," Mikusa said. "We just need to start swinging it because it seems like whenever I pitch nobody scores."
The win was the second straight for Cary-Grove (11-8, 6-3), which took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning via the pickle play.
With speedy Jimmy Perkins on third base and Connor Leach at first, Leach purposely got hung up between first and second. On his toes, Perkins picked the perfect moment to bolt toward the plate and slid home safely.
"If (the second baseman) looks at me once, I kind of know he's not coming back to me," Perkins said, "so I just take off and there's no way he's going to get me."
That lone run would have been enough for Franz (3-0), but the Trojans pushed another marker across in the sixth. Eric Keniuk sent a groundball to shortstop that couldn't be fielded cleanly. That allowed Matt Sutherland to score from third base.
The Trojans tried later in the inning to score another runner from third base via the double steal, but Grayslake North second baseman Dylan Foster fired a return throw to catcher Austyn Ruback in time to nail the runner and end the inning.
"That first and third, really, was the only thing we had going," Cary-Grove coach Don Sutherland said.
Franz had all the cushion he needed, though. The 6-foot-2 junior issued his only walk of the game with two outs in the seventh inning, then induced a fielder's choice groundball to shortstop to end it.
Normally a three-pitch pitcher, Franz relied almost exclusively on the changeup and fastball to subdue the Knights.
"I'm not a fastball pitcher, I'm a slow pitcher," said Franz, who hit two batters with pitches and struck out three. "I work guys backward. I had the changeup going for me all game. That's what I relied on the most. First pitch, second pitch, all game. And they couldn't hit it."
Franz threw 75 pitches in 7 innings, 56 for strikes.
"Boy, did he pitch outstanding," Don Sutherland said. "He pitched efficiently, climbed the hill, pitched quick and let his defense help."
The Knights had runners in scoring position in 4 separate innings but were unable to dent the scoreboard.
"We just can't get the big hit when we need it to push a couple of runs across," Grayslake North coach Andy Strahan said. "(Mikusa) deserves a better fate than that."