Summer ended a day too soon for Prospect.
Joliet Catholic's Drake Fellows had a two-out single to left in the bottom of the seventh to eliminate the Knights 3-2 in the semifinals of the Lawler Summer Classic on Wednesday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
"I wanted to play one more night," said Prospect catcher Grant Miller, who doubled earlier in the game. "To play under these lights one more night would have been special. They are a very good team. We are looking forward to next spring already."
Prospect (26-7-1), which was making its first appearance at the state tournament since 1984, had unbeaten Joliet Catholic (20-0) on its heels for most of the game.
"I think that we proved in this tournament that we belonged," said Prospect coach Ross Giusti, whose team had lost its first game in the tournament, then came back to win their next two games to advance to the semifinals.
"Our kids played hard against some top-caliber talent. They were resilient and battled so very hard and I am proud be associated with this great group of kids."
Prospect broke through in the second inning, ending Joliet Catholic's streak of 30 consecutive innings without getting scored upon.
With one out and runners on second and third, Matt Nadler delivered a single to right, scoring Trey Compton, who had singled. Two pitches later, Ryan Molini scored on a wild pitch to put the Knights up 2-0.
Prospect had an opportunity to increase its lead in the fifth when the Knights loaded the bases with two outs. But the inning ended on a deep fly to center.
Tyler Damasky, who had allowed just one hit to Joliet Catholic through the first four innings, was touched up for a pair of unearned runs in the Hilltopppers fifth.
The Hilltoppers loaded the bases without a hit, with batters reaching on a dropped flyball, a hit by pitch and a walk. Purdue-bound Nick Delesandro then singled up the middle to drive in a pair.
Prospect almost got out of the seventh unscathed to force extra innings.
With one out, Damasky gave up a bloop double and then walked the following batter. Delesandro followed with a sharp single to center, but Damasky, who had been replaced on the mound by Willie Sampson, fired a perfect strike to Miller, who easily tagged out the runner.
"I felt loose and good out there," Damasky said. "It was nice to come out here and throw today. I also felt real good when I threw that guy out at the plate. I never did that before."
Giusti said that his team's run through the summer will give them momentum heading into next year.
"I thought we could compete and get ourselves down here and give ourselves a chance," Giusti said. "It really will help us heading into next season."