Baseball: Sebestin's clutch triple trips up West Aurora
Landon Sebestin pulled into third base after his big hit Tuesday and rocked his arms like he was singing a baby a lullaby.
His hitting was sweet music to Oswego.
Sebestin, given a chance this week to work his way into the Oswego lineup, took full advantage. He tripled in the tiebreaking run in the fifth inning, and the visiting Panthers went on to a 6-4 win to take the first two games of a three-game Southwest Prairie West series with West Aurora.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play, make sure I could do something to help my team," Sebestin said. "I'm happy I got the opportunity."
Sebestin, who was 2-for-3 with a double, triple, walk and two runs batted in for Oswego (8-3, 3-2), came to the plate with two out in the fifth in a 2-2 game and courtesy runner Joel Johnson at first after Cade Duffin drew a walk.
Sebestin, a senior and right-handed hitter, went the other way with a pitch and laced a liner that hugged the right field line, bringing Johnson all the way home.
"It was tailing a bit, I peeked up a bit and I thought it might be fair and I just kind of trucked along," Sebestin said. "I generally like to spread the ball around. The approach worked today."
Indeed, Sebestin in his previous at-bat went with a pitch to double to fight-center off hard-throwing West Aurora starting pitcher Matthew Tarr.
"Landon, he has worked his way into the lineup, he's looked really good in practice, it's something we noticed and wanted to give him a shot this week," Oswego coach Joe Giarrante said. "He has a really unorthodox swing but he somehow finds the barrel all the time."
West Aurora (3-7, 1-4), which rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to tie it, looked poised to do so again when Kyle Williams doubled off Oswego starter Blake Hamblin to lead off the bottom half of the fifth.
But Oswego's Jordan Logan relieved and snuffed out the rally with three straight outs, and back-to-back strikeouts, eventually retiring the first seven batters he faced before tiring in the seventh.
"He came up with a guy at second, nobody out, and the guy didn't move. Give him credit," Giarrante said. "He's young, he just has to learn to finish the ballgame without walks."
West Aurora, trailing 6-2 to the last of the seventh, indeed made it sweaty for Oswego late.
Three Blackhawks reached on walks, and Joe Pokryfke singled in two runs to put the tying run on base with two outs before Oswego's Jeffrey Behrends closed things out.
West Aurora is back at full capacity now after having eight players sidelined on the COVID restricted list, but is still going with a predominantly junior lineup.
"They're still learning," West Aurora coach John Reeves said. "They battled, though. I told them you keep battling, good things will happen."
Tarr, himself a junior, battled after giving up back-to-back doubles to Gavin Arseneau and Paxson Hejza to start the game in a two-run Oswego first. Tarr held Oswego scoreless over the next three innings, striking out six while reaching 100 pitches.
"He is a junior who is kind of just learning how to pitch," Reeves said. "You can see it at times, the stuff is electric."
Oswego capitalized on Tarr's exit after four innings, tacking on single runs in the fifth and six, the latter on Arseneau's sacrifice fly, with two in the seventh.
"When you face guys like that you want to eat up pitches and get to the bullpen as quick as you can," Giarrante said. "Give credit to [West Aurora], they never quit. That's the type of ballgames we're going to play in this conference."