Waubonsie Valley made 39 outs on Wednesday.
It didn’t make any on Thursday.
In a Class 4A Plainfield Central regional semifinal, which went 13 innings on Wednesday and was tied at 2-2 before the game was suspended due to darkness, the Warriors won in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the 14th inning, 3-2, on Thursday on a bases loaded, nobody out, RBI single from Drew Ellam.
Waubonsie Valley (25-8-2) advances to face Plainfield Central in Saturday’s regional championship game. The Wildcats upset Yorkville 1-0 in the second semifinal game.
“Both teams had to make plays and I think each team only had two errors in 14 innings so it was a heck of game,” Warriors coach Dan Fezzuoglio said. “Both teams made plays and both teams had their share of opportunities. Being the home team actually really helped.”
Jack Eddy, the Warriors third pitcher of the game, but first on Thursday, set down the Bengals in order in the top of the 14th. There really wasn’t any doubt that Fezzuoglio would call on Eddy after throwing his other star hurlers, Tyler Hasper (7 innings, earned run) and Brandon Petersen (6 inning, 3 hits, 0 runs) on Wednesday.
“When you get into this position you have to go with your best guys to help you get to Saturday,” Fezzuoglio said. “He’s been great all year and we had confidence in him to get them out and then to put us in a position to win.”
Plainfield East (15-19-1) turned to its seventh pitcher of the game, Tyler Veart, in the bottom of the 14th and Tyler Hasper didn’t greet him kindly, lining his second pitch down the left field line for a double.
“That was a crazy game,” Hasper said. “I wasn’t seeing the ball real well yesterday and tried to make some adjustments to my game today and it paid off.”
Garret Howicz (4-for-7, RBI) followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt that ended up going for a bunt single to put runners on the corners. The Bengals then elected to intentionally walk Tad Wegner to load the bases for Ellam (3-for-6, RBI).
“There wasn’t as much pressure because I knew with no outs, if I didn’t get it done, the guys behind me would do it,” Ellam said. “I was just trying to hit the ball hard, and I figured if I did that that anything could happen.”
Both teams missed out on big opportunities to win the game in extra innings on Wednesday.
The Bengals had runners on first and third base with one out in the top of the 12th but couldn’t score. They also had a runner on third base with two outs in the 13th but were denied.
The Warriors had runners on second and third with two outs in the 10th but a strikeout ended their threat. They had an even better chance in the 12th with the bases loaded and only one out but a pop-up and line out allowed the Bengals to stay alive.
“Waubonsie is solid, and that’s why they’re the No. 2 seed, but we gave them a run and that’s all we could do,” Bengals coach Adam O’Reel said. “There’s a lot of ways you can finish a season, but to battle like we did, to fight like that. I’ll take it this way any day.”