Jacobs right-hander Reilly Peltier followed a plan hatched 362 miles away to limit Cary-Grove to 2 hits in Thursday's 3-1 playoff victory in Crystal Lake.
The hard-throwing senior was facing the Trojans for the second time this season. The first meeting took place on March 26 in downstate Marion during the teams' respective spring break trips. Peltier wasn't at full strength with his fastball in that first start of the season, but he still managed to hold the Trojans to 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6 in 6 innings of a 7-6 win.
"I just kind of kept it away from them and they were having trouble with that," Peltier said of the March 26 game. "So I just came out here with that same attack -- don't give them anything really inside."
With better velocity on his fastball and a game plan heavy on painting the corners, Peltier (6-2) held the Trojans to 1 earned run in the fifth inning. He walked 3 and struck out 8 in a 110-pitch complete game.
"It was all his fastball, all pumped up," Cary-Grove coach Don Sutherland said.
"I just want to go as far as we can this year, so there was a lot of excitement going through me," said Peltier, whose team reached a supersectional last season.
The victory advances No. 2 Jacobs (22-13) to the Class 4A Crystal Lake South regional title game against No. 1 Barrington (25-10) on Saturday at 3 p.m. The matchup is a title-game rematch. In 2013, the Golden Eagles defeated Barrington 9-3 to win their first regional championship.
The teams met this season on April 9, when the Broncos overcame a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in Algonquin.
"New day, new game," Jacobs senior first baseman Ben Murray said. "Nothing in the past matters. Just Saturday."
The Golden Eagles supported Peltier with good defense. No. 3 Cary-Grove had runners on first and second with one out in the top of the fourth inning when Murray snagged a line-drive off the bat of cleanup hitter Andrew Splitt. He then made a headfirst dive to double up Dean Christakes before the runner could dive back to first base.
"I saw it coming right at me," Murray said of the liner. "When I saw Christakes take one step toward second, I was like, 'This would be huge if we could get that double play right here and kill the momentum.'"
Jacobs shortstop Matt Kozlak turned in the defensive play of the game. His team was protecting a 2-run lead in the seventh inning when Kozlak made a diving stop to his right deep in the hole, popped to his feet and threw to first base in one motion. The gem robbed Cary-Grove catcher Wyatt Mascarella of a leadoff hit and kept the potential tying run from coming to the plate.
"That's huge because if Cary-Grove gets the leadoff man on, it's a different inning." Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said.
The Golden Eagles managed only 6 hits against left-hander Larkin Hanselmann (6-3), but 3 of them came consecutively with one out in the second inning. Ryan Sargent and Jake Jemmi singled, and third baseman Owen Oreskovich followed with a run-scoring single to left field.
Hanselmann then walked No. 9 hitter Daniel Tenayuca and Kozlak consecutively to force in Jacobs' second run. Ben Murray made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
The loss ended the high school careers of eight Cary-Grove seniors, three of whom started Thursday's game. The Trojans won 20 games but did not reach team goals of winning a conference championship or a regional.
"We have awful nice kids. They're always a pleasure to work with," Sutherland said. "I wouldn't want to be any other place."