Baseball: Rogers stars at the plate, on the mound for state-bound Grayslake Central

When Chris Rogers woke up Monday morning, the first thing he looked for was any pain in his right arm.

The senior, who will play Division I baseball at Lindenwood next season, said that his arm felt perfect.

"It felt great," said Rogers, who threw three innings and 60 pitches last Thursday in the sectional semifinal against Crystal Lake South before leaving with some stiffness.

"It feels amazing right now. I couldn't ask for a better day."

With the strong arm and a solid bat, Rogers pitched and hit Grayslake Central past Fenwick, 2-1, in the Class 3A supersectional at Wintrust Field in Schaumburg.

It will be the Rams' fourth trip to the state finals and first since 2014 when they finished fourth.

Grayslake Central (32-7) will meet Effingham in Friday's 3A semifinal at Duly Field in Joliet at 10 a.m. Effingham beat Champaign Central 4-0 in the Decatur supersectional.

"We were 2-3 at the start of the season," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "And then we began to play better. You usually need two things to advance. You have to play well and you have to have some luck. We just played well. That's what we did and that was enough."

Whalen said that Rogers was able to do things to help carry the day.

"Chris is a D-1 guy," Whalen said. "In games like this you have to have alpha males. He put us on his back today. He got better as the game went on. He got more comfortable as the game went on."

Whalen allowed just three hits while striking out three and not allowing a walk. He retired the last 13 batters he faced, while throwing 84 pitches.

"I didn't warm up as well as I usually do," Rogers said. "But I felt better when there were batters in the box, if that makes any sense. I also felt stronger as the game went on. "

Fenwick (17-17) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. The Friars were able to score on a throwing error when Grayslake Central failed to turn an inning-ending double play.

The Rams came back in their half of the inning and were able to take the lead thanks to a timely double by Rogers.

Jack Gerbasi and Luke Mudd each singled to lead off the inning. Adam Fitzgerald then bunted and Fenwick opted to attempt to get the force at third, but Gerbasi hustled his way to third and easily beat the throw to load the bases with no outs.

The Rams then almost bailed out Fenwick when Riley Policht lined out to short center. It turned into a double play when the Rams runner strayed too far from second base.

Rogers then saved the rally when he doubled to right center to score a pair of runs as the Rams took a 2-1 lead.

"I had to have a short memory," Rogers said. "You can't let a play like that bother you. My coach told me that their pitcher likes to get ahead. So, I was looking for a first pitch fastball and I got one."

The Rams has opportunities to increase their lead in the next three innings. But they stranded two runners in one inning and had two other runners thrown out on the bases.

Meanwhile, the Rams were throwing some leather themselves - especially in the final inning. That included the final out of the game when third baseman Riley Policht charged a slow roller and threw to first to just get the batter.

"I was thinking I was like a Kris Bryant on the play," Policht said. "I even slipped a bit. There were guys in the stands calling it out just like the Cubs game."

Policht said that he and his teammates are excited to be headed to state.

"We have been together for 10-plus years," Policht said. "It is dream we have had together to play in the state championship since we were younger."

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