Marmion entered the Class 4A Downers Grove South regional Thursday in an offensive funk, scoring no runs in its previous three games.
The Cadets didn't exactly break out against Downers Grove North righty Brett Pryburn with just 4 singles and 2 runs in 7 innings.
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But with Alex Troop pitching, that was more than enough.
With several pro scouts paying close attention, the 6-foot-4 left-hander dominated the Trojans in a 2-0 victory that sends No. 10 seeded Marmion (17-11) into the regional championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday against host Downers Grove South, the No. 3 seed.
Troop finished with 12 strikeouts while allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks. All three hits were singles and only one of them left the infield.
"Fastball felt good at the beginning, curve ball and changeup were working pretty well too," Troop said. "Everything was feeling good."
Downers Grove North (18-14) certainly made Troop work. The Trojans fouled off 24 pitches in Troop's 6 innings, running his pitch count up to 117 and giving them a chance against Marmion's No. 2 pitcher Jake Esp in the seventh.
Esp, who will return Saturday to start the regional championship, worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless seventh, getting No. 3 hitter Joe Provenzano to ground out to second to seal the first Class 4A postseason win in Marmion's history.
"I could see my arm was getting tired," Troop said. "I had full confidence in Jake coming up. He did a great job."
"He (Troop) got ahead in the count finally," Marmion coach Dave Rakow said. "He had trouble making a strikeout pitch and you have to give Downers North credit for extending the counts. Lot of foul balls with two strikes and they made Alex really work today."
Troop improved to 5-0. He's signed with Michigan State but also is getting plenty of attention heading into next week's Major League Baseball Draft.
"It's (MLB) been my dream since I was young. It's every kid's goal. It's great to see scouts behind here," Troop said.
"You don't really know. All it takes is one team to like you a lot. We'll see how it turns out. It's a win-win situation. I have a great opportunity at Michigan State if I go to college. Whatever one seems to be a better choice for my family and I we'll do."
Pryburn (5-5) matched Troop most of the day. He only needed 77 pitches to toss his complete game, striking out eight and walking one.
After facing the minimum nine batters through three innings, Pryburn's defense let him down in the fourth. Brian Simon singled with one out, then the Trojans threw a potential double-play grounder into right field to put runners at the corners.
After courtesy runner Nick Salazar took second on a wild pitch, Troop helped himself with a 2-run single to right field. The Trojans were playing their infield in, and they couldn't come up with Troop's hard grounder to the second baseman.
"Game of baseball," Trojans coach Chad Isaacson said. "Happens at every level. I don't fault the effort. Those are guys that have worked their tails off all year for us."
Those two runs turned out to be the only ones in the game, though the Trojans had their chances, stranding 9 runners.
The Cadets opened the fourth by dropping a pop-up and booting an infield grounder to put runners at first and third with no outs. Troop struck out the next two hitters and got the third out on one of the Trojans' rare hard-hit balls to Simon in fairly deep left field.
After Troop struck out the side in the fifth -- all looking -- Myles Farley had one of the many quality at-bats for the Trojans fouling off four pitches before hitting a single to left field.
Patrick Geraghty walked and Brendan Shanahan reached on an infield single to load the bases with two outs. Troop escaped again with three straight strikes for his 12th strikeout -- his final pitch of the game a high fastball the Trojans couldn't catch up with.
"We battled, we had some good at-bats," Isaacson said. "He's a tough guy to square up. Unfortunately for us he made pitches when he needed to. We had a couple opportunities and he bore down. That's what a guy like him has an ability to do."
Rakow is looking for a little more offense Saturday.
"We were focused on having quality at-bats which at times we had but I was getting pretty frustrated for a few innings out there," Rakow said. "We did just enough to win today. I told them after the game they are going to have to clean a few things up to beat Downers Grove South on Saturday."