Thoughts of a perfect game danced briefly through Jake Cady's head, but the bulk of his attention remained on the scoreboard.
"It crossed my mind a few times, but all I care about is the 'W,'" he said.
Cady got it done, pitching a 3-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks while leading Willowbrook's baseball team to a 3-2 victory over York in Thursday's Class 4A York regional semifinals in Elmhurst.
The win sends the No. 9 Warriors (21-11) into the regional title game to face top-seeded Batavia (30-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"Absolutely, we're back on track," said Cady, talking about his team's seventh win in eight games after dropping five straight. "Probably about two weeks ago we fell back into stride and we've been rolling since."
Cady was perfect through four innings and took a 3-0 shutout into the sixth. He escaped a jam in the fifth by snaring a line drive and firing the ball to second base for an inning-ending double play.
Eighth-seeded York (22-14) finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth by scoring twice on Kyle Coughlin's RBI groundout and Anthony Santos' run-scoring single. Cady, however, stranded the tying run at first.
York starter Seth Dvorak set down the Warriors in order in the top of the seventh, but Cady did the same in the bottom of the inning to seal the win. The senior righty needed only 77 pitches to finish the complete game.
"You've got to give their kid credit, he kept us off balance," said York coach Dave Kalal, whose team claimed a share of the West Suburban Silver title. "The sixth inning we battled back, but I think it was a little too late. We needed to do something early in the game to kind of calm our nerves a little bit and kind of take them out of their game."
Tyler Zunkel led off the game with a single for Willowbrook, and he eventually scored on an error. Luke Schuemer's double turned into a third-inning run when he also scored on an error.
Willowbrook tallied what turned out to be the winning run in the fourth inning when Brian Johnson tripled and scored on Tucker Newling's sacrifice fly.
Because T.J. Case continues to nurse an arm injury, Willowbrook coach Vic Wisner says he plans to start Jeremy Knable in Saturday's regional final. Batavia beat the Warriors 6-1 on April 1 on a Spring Break day where the temperature barely made it past 30 degrees.
"The way we tailor our games and we do all our practices, it's about playing our best in the regional," Wisner said. "We had a bad five-game stretch, and from that point on we've won seven of our last eight. We've played really, really well."
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