Baseball: Prospect holds off Glenbrook North to reach sectional final
Sometimes those last three outs are just oh so tough to get.
The Prospect baseball team found that out Wednesday at Glenbrook North, but in the end, the Knights got them.
Prospect took a 5-run lead into the bottom of the seventh inning in a sectional semifinal against the Spartans, but surrendered 4 runs before relief pitcher Will Sommers got the final, game-saving out.
The Knights won 8-7 in Northbrook.
"You've got to give credit to Glenbrook North," said Prospect coach Ross Giusti. "They didn't give up. But I give our kids a lot of credit too. They hung in there, and I'm so proud of them."
The Knights' defense had a couple of miscues in the field in the first two innings, but recovered to make some outstanding defensive plays in the latter stages of the game, especially outfielders Peyton Burgh, Jake Bush, and Ethan Rossi.
"That was nervous energy," said Giusti. "We're starting six juniors and a sophomore out there, these are kids with high energy who have never been in this type of an environment before. They worked their way through it and gained confidence as the game went on."
The game was tied at 2-2 in the third when Rossi launched a 3-run homer that just skimmed over the left field fence to put Prospect up 5-2.
The Knights added 2 more in the fifth as juniors Burgh and Brady Jensen were both hit by pitches to start the inning and came around to score.
Prospect got an all-important RBI single by catcher Tyler Ciulla in the top of the seventh to take an 8-3 lead in to the bottom of the frame.
Then starting pitcher Cole Conner, who had pitched a solid game through six, gave up 4 singles and a walk to the first five batters as the Spartans closed to within 8-5.
At that point, Giusti brought in Sommers.
"He (Conner) was only at 68 pitches," said Giusti, "but I think with the heat he got a little tired. Cole has been a warrior for us all year."
Sommers, facing a bases-loaded and no outs situation, gave up a sacrifice fly and a groundball unassisted putout at first by Kyle Odeshoo, which put two outs on the board but also saw Glenbrook North creep to within 8-7.
Then Sommers bore down, and induced the next Spartans hitter to ground sharply to second base -- ironically, the same position which the senior had just vacated to take the mound.
Jack Friar made the play for the final putout as the Knights' celebration began.
"That last out was a fastball," said Sommers. "I was really confident in my fastball, my arm felt really great and I knew I could just make him (the Spartans' hitter) wait on it and hit it right to Friar. I had no doubt that he would make the play -- me and him have been working over there in practice, he's a smooth fielder and I had all the confidence in the world in him."
Conner got the well-deserved win.
"Honestly, I was a little nervous coming into the game," said Conner. " I knew everyone on that team could hit -- there was no pitching around them, so I just went right at them. They put the ball in play, but our fielders were phenomenal today."