Baseball: Courtney, Prospect clamp down against Buffalo Grove
Ben Courtney had a short leash. And the Prospect hurler used it to put a stranglehold on Buffalo Grove on Monday in Mount Prospect.
Courtney, who pitched last Wednesday and was thus limited to 90 pitches on Monday, didn't even need that many. The senior threw just 81 pitches for a complete-game 5-1 victory over Buffalo Grove in a matchup of top Mid-Suburban East baseball teams.
"It was a little cold out there for the warmups, but I felt good," said Courtney. "My arm felt good out there. I knew I had to be as good as I could be today because of the pitch count I was on."
Courtney allowed just 4 hits and struck out three while walking one. He threw 56 strikes, including 19 first-pitch strikes.
Prospect coach Ross Giusti said Courtney was the right guy to be in the mound on Monday for the Knights.
"Ben was just in control," Giusti said. " He has been that way the last two years. He just goes out there with good command and rhythm to him. He made some good pitches today and had them out in front a little bit."
The win also put Prospect (16-8, 12-1) in the driver's seat to win its first MSL East title since 2013.
The Knights now have a 2-game lead over Buffalo Grove (21-3-1, 10-3) with 3 conference games remaining. The two teams will meet again Wednesday at Buffalo Grove, with the Bison needing to win that game and to get some help in the final two conference games Friday and next Monday.
"This was the big game today," Giusti said. "You have to finish out. We have them again on Wednesday and they are going to come right back at us. We have to be playing good fundamental baseball."
Buffalo Grove scored its only run in the third inning without the benefit of a hit.
Tyler Rundquist was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Courtesy runner Jack Vaselaney went to second on a throwing error and to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Gran. Vaselaney then scored on Leo Rule's sacrifice fly to right.
Prospect came back to tally 4 times in the fourth. Like Buffalo Grove, they did it without a hit.
Grant Whitebloom walked, Nick DeCapri reached on a fielder's choice and John Czseslowski walked to load the bases. A walk to Nick Ergostolo forced in one run and another one plated when John Morgan was hit by a pitch.
The Knights added two more runs on a wild pitch and a subsequent throwing error to lead 4-1.
"It was a struggle for one inning," Buffalo Grove coach Tim Miller said. "We let the frustrations get the best of us."
Prospect added an insurance run in the sixth when Ergostolo doubled with one out. Courtesy runner Kevin Donahue then scored on Richie Baczek's double.
"I just am keeping it going," said Baczek, who had 3 hits on the day. "Early in the season, we didn't have resolve, but now we are getting it going. We are just trying to grind."
Miller said his team, which could be awarded the No. 1 or 2 seed in the Mundelein sectional seeding on Wednesday, is looking to bounce back against Prospect.
"We put ourselves in a hole for the conference," Miller said. "We need to win and then get some help."