Baseball: Prairie RIdge holds on to down Cary-Grove
Prairie Ridge's Matt Porter was given some warning, although he was not given any steal sign at a crucial moment in Monday's game against Cary-Grove.
Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro chose an unconventional way of letting Porter know what to do. Standing in the third-base coaching box, a few feet away from Porter, he just told him when to run.
"Coach saw that their pitcher (Steve Churak) was taking a long pause when I took my lead," Porter said. "He's like, 'Just go!' I'm like, 'Right now?' I just went."
It was a drastic-measure-in-desperate-times type of situation as Porter made his mad dash for home. Fortunately, batter Will Komar spotted Porter out of the corner of his eye and backed out of the way.
Churak's throw home got past catcher Drew Talkington and Prairie Ridge, which had the bases loaded, scored twice and held on for a 4-3 victory in their Fox Valley Conference game.
Hits and runs had been tough to come in a pitching matchup of left-handers Porter and Cary-Grove's Ryan Weaver. Pecoraro was willing to do almost anything to try to get runs.
The Wolves (4-6, 2-3 had the bases loaded with two outs and Komar faced a 2-2 count when Porter raced for home.
"I didn't give (Komar) the 'take' sign. It could have been ugly," Pecoraro said. "Will didn't even know he was coming. I had told (Porter) we might be looking for an opportunity here. With two strikes, I'm thinking, 'What have I got to lose? I'm taking a chance.' "
As Talkington chased down the ball, Jon Vasey scored from second base. Reliever Jake Larson came in for Porter and nailed down the save with a pop-up and 2 strikeouts.
"It was fantastic pitching and it's disappointing it has to be decided on a play where we had the kid (Porter) out," Trojans coach Ryan Passaglia said. "Stevie does a great job and we missed it. That's a tough situation. Nine times out of 10 you see a balk right there. Credit (Pecoraro) for forcing the issue. It paid off for them."
Weaver and Porter made it a tough day for hitters on both sides. Weaver struck out 11, three times fanning three batters in an inning. Porter whiffed 10 and twice struck out the side.
The most important inning for C-G (2-3, 2-3) was the fourth when Prairie Ridge loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and a bunt, with no outs. Weaver proceeded to strike out the next three batters and preserve C-G's 2-1 lead.
"I knew they were coming up to swing, but I knew what to expect swing-path-wise, so I just challenged them and put it in their hands," Weaver said. "As pitchers, this is the kind of game you want. It kind of lights a fire under your butt to keep going out and having to do the same thing he does. Porter pitched really well."
The outing was Porter's best of the season. He allowed only two hits and walked two.
"Weaver and I have been pitching against each other for years now," Porter said. "It was great to get on the mound against him. I loved it.
"I was feeling my curveball in the bullpen (before the game). I was feeling two to three pitches, I knew it was going to be a good day."
Weaver was at 100 pitches after five innings and left with a 3-1 lead as Zack LaBrec entered in relief. The Wolves' Jack Tobin was hit by a pitch and Porter singled to start the rally, but LaBrec retired the next two hitters.
Luke Bounds, running for Tobin, stole third as Walkington's throw was wide of third baseman Nathan Splitt. Vasey was hit by a pitch and Nate LeFever walked, loading the bases with two outs and sending Komar to the plate.
"I was ready to take a pitch and all of a sudden, in my peripheral vision, I see Matt running down the line," Komar said. "I really wasn't sure if (Churak) was pitching it. I stepped off and it got by the catcher and we scored two."