Warren pitcher Andrew Hill did not know what the pitcher's best friend was.
But the junior found out very quickly in his team's 3-2 victory Thursday in the Palatine regional.
Twice Hill found himself in a jam, and twice the Blue Devils defense came through, turning double plays, including one to end the tightly played game.
"I do know all about it now," Hill said. "I mostly went to the fastball, because it was hitting most consistently.
"I didn't think I threw my best game. But my teammates picked me up when I needed it."
Hill allowed 5 hits while striking out five as Warren (23-12-1) moved into Saturday's 2 p.m. regional final against Mundelein. Mundelein defeated Warren twice this season, winning each game by 1 run.
"The double plays were great for us," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "Their pitcher kept us off balance all the time. But our guy didn't let things get to him. He has done a great job of battling and competing all season."
Palatine pitcher Nolan Gavin was also sharp for the Pirates (20-16). The senior, who was named MSL West co-player of the year, allowed just 4 hits while striking out five and picked a runner off of first base.
"Gav does what Gav does," Palatine coach Paul Belo said. "He comes in and gives us a chance. That is all we can ask for."
Palatine loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs, but Hill was able to get out of the jam by allowing just 1 run.
Gavin led off the inning with a sharp single to left. The Pirates then got an infield singles by Zach Serna and Andrew Bohlmann. Brad Bauer walked to drive in a run, but Hill got a comebacker that he turned into a double play and a groundout to end the threat.
Warren took the lead in the fourth, scoring 3 runs after two were out and no one on base.
Hill walked, and Stephen Binstock reached on an error. Chris Mathieu drilled a double to right-center driving in a pair of runs. Mathieu came around to score on Sean Hannigan's bloop single to right.
"I was just looking to hit it and get a base hit," Mathieu said. "I just wanted to start this team up. I hit it pretty hard and it squared up real nice and carried for me."
Palatine got one of those runs back in the fifth when Chris Macahon doubled down the left-field line with one out. He scored on Matt Saltess' single up the middle.
The Pirates threatened to tie the game in the seventh. With one out, Nick Orlando walked and Macahon reached on an error. But Hill got the next batter to hit a two-hopper to second baseman Ryan Kain, who started the game ending double play.
"I can't fault my hitters for being aggressive," Belo said. "Hill just made good pitches in both situations."
Smothers likes how his team has battled this season.
"We have scrapped all year," Smothers said. "We have lost a lot of close games. We keep telling our guys that it will go our way at some point."