In a battle of titans, host Warren (9-2-1) executed on the mound and in the field, and played long and small ball at the plate in handing Grant (8-1) its first loss.
THE TURNING POINT
Ben Dinter’s solo homer off the center field scoreboard broke a scoreless tie in the fifth, but it was successful back-to-back squeeze bunts by Jake Falish and Brad Zahn in the sixth that the put the game away. Warren had three bunt singles and three successful sacrifices in the game.
Warren hurler Wes Gordon went the distance, allowing four hits, walking two, hitting one and fanning five. He was in trouble only in the second when Tino Torres led off with a single and Will Zitkus walked. Gordon then punched out Eddie Kusiak and Warren turned a 5-4-3 double play. That trumped the small-ball efforts of Warren’s Chris Mathieu, who bunted successfully three times, twice for singles and once for a sacrifice.
BY THE NUMBERS
For Grant, Doug Murphy pitched six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and three walks. At the plate, Simeon Lucas was 1-for-3 with a two-out double in the first. Tino Torres was 2-for-3. For Warren, Dominic Cuevas doubled.
“We wanted to win this one for our skipper [Clint Smothers, who was suspended by IHSA rule for getting ejected in Warren’s last game]. The kids were tweeting out ‘Free Smo’ all week,” acting coach D.J. McCullough laughed. “This is a pretty special group. We’re a young team, but you can see things starting to come together a little bit. We didn’t execute as well as well as we could have early. We missed a lot of opportunities, but we kept fighting. Thankfully, Wes kept us in the game, and we executed when it counted at the end. That was something we really needed.”
Nobody looked at us to be anything special this year, but we’ve come out and proven we can play with some of the best teams in the area. A win like this is definitely a confidence-builder.” — Gordon
“These are the type of games you want to be in. That felt like a regional game. That’s what we want. We need more games like that.” — Grant coach Dave Behm