College Baseball: Prairie State sweeps Moraine Valley in doubleheader
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media April 16, 2014 8:38PM
Updated: April 16, 2014 10:17PM
Prairie State’s Bobby Sheppard has his season goals clearly defined.
One, two, three.
“We talk about winning three championships: conference, regional and then the World Series,” Sheppard said. “This is a different team (than last year), and we have more confidence than last year. We’re a lot closer with some good camaraderie.”
Having won the Skyway Conference title last season, the first in program history, Prairie State helped its effort for a repeat Wednesday, sweeping Moraine Valley 9-6 and 8-2 in Chicago Heights.
The Pioneers improved to 15-9 overall and 9-3 in conference. Prairie State will play Elgin on Saturday in a Skyway doubleheader.
Dan Ohde (Brother Rice) finished 5-for-7 on the day with a home run and six RBI to lead the sweep. No hit was bigger than his third-inning single in Game 2.
Standing in the on-deck circle, Ohde watched Moraine intentionally walk Sheppard to load the bases with just one out. Challenge accepted on Ohde’s part.
The freshman ripped a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Derek Denovellis to tie the game at 1. Kevin Reiher (Eisenhower) followed with an RBI single and Nico Kelly (Homewood-Flossmoor) added a sacrifice fly as Prairie State went up 3-1 and never looked back.
“It felt like they thought I wasn’t as good a hitter,” Ohde said with a smile. “I was trying to get the ball in play and keep things going. This was a huge momentum-builder for us.”
On the mound, John Swisher did the rest, throwing a complete game, scattering six hits over seven innings with five strikeouts.
Swisher, a Peotone grad, improved to 3-1. Pitching in heavy winds, the sophomore kept it simple.
“The wind was pretty bad so I’m just throwing strikes,” Swisher said. “I had a good bullpen (pregame) so I felt pretty good coming in. I’m feeling really confident out there in all my pitches.”
Swisher tossed a five-inning no-hitter vs. Morton two weeks ago.
Cody Vogler added an absolute bomb of a two-run homer in the seventh for Prairie State. Sheppard finished 1-for-3 in the second game with two runs.
Ryan Kull (Ag. Science) and Ryan Gyrion (Brother Rice) had an RBI apiece for Moraine Valley (4-12, 3-8).
“The upside for us, we battled,” Moraine Valley coach Cole Farmer said. “We’re outmatched every time we step on the field, especially in conference, and we know that. We have to do the small things right. When we do that and know our identity, we can run with anybody.”
In the opener, Prairie State took an 8-0 lead through three innings and held on. Moraine Valley scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh before Prairie State starter Joe Prete (4-0) induced a groundout to end the game.
Prete went the distance, striking out eight.