The second-best baseball season in Jacobs history ended Saturday.
The second-best season in Prairie Ridge history continues.
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Prairie Ridge left-hander Austin Covers denied Jacobs consecutive sectional titles with a 4-1 victory in the Class 4A McHenry sectional championship game. The Southern Illinois signee limited the Golden Eagles to an unearned run on 3 hits in 6 innings, and the Wolves overcame an early deficit with 4 unanswered runs.
The sectional title is the second for Prairie Ridge, its first since winning the 2008 Class 4A state championship. In two sectional games against Jacobs and Huntley, the Wolves allowed only 2 unearned runs on 5 hits.
"Pitching is why we are sectional champions," coach Glen Pecoraro said. " All the credit goes to (pitching) coach (Andy) Deain. He has done an incredible job with our guys all season."
Prairie Ridge (23-16) advances to Monday's 6 p.m. Rockford Aviators supersectional against Mundelein (26-2), which defeated Libertyville 8-1 to win the Glenbrook South sectional.
The win was the 13th in 15 outings for Prairie Ridge. That hot streak began in early May with a 2-game sweep of Jacobs, a team the Wolves have beaten 13 straight times since April of 2007.
"They haven't beat us. We were pretty confident," Covers said. "We already beat them twice this year. We just had to go out there, put some runs on the board and get some outs."
Jacobs grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Senior Ben Murray drew a one-out walk, took second on a passed ball, advanced to third on Grant Kale's groundout and scored on a wild pitch from Covers.
That was the only mistake Covers made. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior used a tight curveball and a fastball that had movement within the strike zone to limit Jacobs to 3 hits and 3 walks.
Covers pitched to contact, only striking out two Golden Eagles. Jacobs (24-14) beat the ball into the ground, and the Wolves picked it up error-free throughout. Of the 18 outs recorded by Covers, 14 were groundouts.
"When you've got a lefty with movement who's hitting his spots, it's real tough," Ben Murray said. "It's hard to get good, solid contact. We were rolling over a lot and getting on top of it. It just wasn't our day at the plate."
The Wolves gave their pitcher a lead to work with in the top of the second when they scored 3 runs on 3 hits against Jacobs sophomore right-hander Brenden Heiss (3-2). With runners on first and second, Dustin Thelander's single to right field drove in Carson Getzelman with the tying run. Chris Slack scored the go-ahead run on the same play when the throw from the outfield skipped past the catcher. Marcus Sargeant then ripped a double down the left-field line to help Prairie Ridge take a 3-1 lead.
The Wolves scored a fourth run in the third inning when Caleb Aldridge's single scored Kyle Buresch, who drew a one-out walk and stole second.
"Pitching with the lead is a lot easier than either tied or behind," Covers said. "Once we got the lead, I just had to go out there and do my thing."
Senior reliever John Myers retired Jacobs in order in the seventh inning to earn the save.
The loss concluded a successful season for Jacobs. The Golden Eagles finished second in the Valley Division of the Fox Valley Conference, came within a victory of matching last year's school record for wins and won the school's second consecutive regional title.
"Our expectation has always been Joliet. It always will be," said Jacobs coach Jamie Murray, whose teams went 7-2 in playoff games the last two seasons. "We've got great guys in the program and we're going to keep working hard. But the kids move the program. All we do is set it up for them and they buy into it. Overall, we have some young guys in the program and we'll come back next year."