For Minooka pitcher Joe Butler, it was just another day in the park.
The sophomore right-hander didn't feel the pressure of making a big start against Lockport. He threw five strong innings to help the Indians to a 5-2 victory before a large crowd, under the lights, on Saturday night at Flink Field in Lockport.
"No, I'm pretty used to this," Butler said of the pressure. "I pitched here last summer (helping Minooka to win the Lockport summer league regional), so it's fun to be in these situations.
"I didn't have all my pitches, but I was able to spot them and we got enough runs."
The Indians (11-3) made the most of their situations and were helped by four Lockport errors. The first of those came in the third when Butler bounced a two-out tapper in front of the plate that was thrown away at first to allow two runs to score.
Lockport (7-9) trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the third when Tyler Hair ripped a full-count pitch for a two-out RBI single to left center. The Porters tied it in the fourth as Mike Formella reached out and poked a 1-2 pitch to left for a one-out RBI single.
But that was the last hit by Lockport. Minooka took the lead in the fifth when Brennan Polcyn bounced a single to the left side for the Indians only RBI of the game. Butler walked two and the Indians committed their only error in the bottom of the fifth to load the bases. But he got out of the jam by coaxing a ground out after an 8-pitch battle with Ryan Dalton.
Butler (4-0) went the first five innings, allowing the two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
"We've been getting great pitching all year," Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic said. "Butters is a sophomore and he just goes out there and acts like it's another day. We made the plays and we're going to win a lot of games with our pitching."
Minooka added two more runs in the sixth with no hits. But a pair of Porter pitchers hit three batters and walked two. Jon Vesper (walk) scored on a double play grounder, and Kenny Walsh (hit by pitch) scored on a wild pitch.
Mitch Vogrin came in for the final two innings for Minooka. The senior right-hanger was overpowering, striking out five and walking one to register the save.
"It's nice to have Vogrin," Butler said. "I'm glad to hand it over to him."
Jake Null had two of Minooka's five hits and scored the games initial run in the third.
"We played sloppy," Lockport coach Andy Satunas said. "You can't do that against a team of Minooka's caliber."
The game capped an all-day "Strike Out Cancer Day" that included lower level games and Lockport hosting a softball tournament as well. Players wore the name of someone who was stricken with cancer on the back of specially made jersey's and the proceeds went to raise funds for cancer research.