Baseball: Minooka outlasts Sandburg for regional title
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org July 18, 2013 10:36PM
Updated: July 18, 2013 10:36PM
A regional filled with exciting baseball had to end this way.
Sandburg had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the seventh inning Thursday night and was primed to erase Minooka’s 4-3 lead at Ed Flink Field.
Instead, right fielder Sean Bell caught Jimmy Landgraf’s fly to right field and threw a one-hop strike to catcher Tyler Desmarais, who blocked the plate and applied the tag to a sliding Peter Paxinos for a spectacular double play, the ultimate highlight of the Lockport Regional in the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
Still, the Eagles had runners at the corners, and Jimmy Roche hit a grounder in the hole between first and second. First baseman Cole Thompson ranged far to his right, backhanded the ball and from his knees threw to pitcher Mitch Vogrin covering. Roche dived headfirst for the bag but was called out on a second straight bang-bang play.
“The perfect throw, that did it,” Desmarais said of Bell’s heroics. “I maybe had to block the plate like that once when I was a lot younger. I knew he (Paxinos) had to slide inside or outside. When he it my shin guard, I knew I just had to tag him.
“What a way to finish a game.”
What a way to punch a ticket to state. The Indians (13-5-1) will meet St. Rita at 10 a.m. Monday at North Central College.
Vogrin, the staff ace who had been taking the summer off from pitching, entered after gutsy starter Trevor Maly, who had two victories and a save in the regional, walked the first two batters in the seventh.
“I talked to coach Petro (Jeff Petrovic) before the game and told him I was available as an option, for a critical situation,” Vogrin said.
It was critical, all right.
“That’s baseball,” said Sandburg coach Jim Morsivillo, whose team ends the summer 10-3-1. “We beat Providence (in the quarterfinals) when we scored four runs after we were down to our last strike.
“Our kids thought we were the comeback guys. We had something going again but their right fielder made a phenomenal throw and it was a real close play. Even on the final out, everyone was holding their breath.”
Maly watched from the dugout as Vogrin and the Minooka defense saved one of the biggest victories of his young career.
“It was a beautiful play,” said Maly, who allowed two-second inning runs on Dan Santiago’s RBI double and Cal Smith’s two-out single.
“Bell is a junior, but he’s a wonderful kid and really energetic. “I didn’t have all my stuff, but I felt good when I was warming up. It was amazing.”
In the seventh inning? “I couldn’t find it then,” he said. “My hand was sweaty.”
“Here’s a kid who goes out there on two days’ rest (not to mention pitching the final inning of Wednesday’s 10-inning, 5-2 semifinal win over Lincoln-Way West), doesn’t have his best stuff, but shows a lot of guts,” Petrovic said of Maly.
“And our defense — I’d love to be a pitcher on this team. Our defense flat goes get it.”
Although Sandburg’s defense contributed to Minooka’s four-run third inning that gave the Indians a 4-2 lead that stood until Sandburg scored one in the seventh, both side were outstanding with the leather.
“This was a great game,” Petrovic said. “The plays that were made on both sides, we beat a great program.”
Bell’s bunt single and Neal Tyrell’s hustle into second to beat the rap on a fielder’s choice were keys to Minooka scoring its four runs against Roche, who worked the first four innings.
“With the type of team we are, we need things to go right,” Petrovic said. “We can’t make a lot of mistakes. All the little bits count, and that was shown again in this game.”