CHICAGO — Even though his teammates and coaches were posing for pictures with parents and fans after their victory in the baseball regional final, Maine South pitcher Bobby Pennington did what he always does. He ran from foul pole to foul pole in the outfield to rid his right arm of the lactic acid that builds inside after pitching a long game.
Pennington eventually joined his teammates and celebrated a 2-0 victory over Maine West in the Class 4A Von Steuben Regional title game Saturday. Pennington pitched seven shutout innings to earn the win.
All the senior needed was a two-run single by junior Stephen Sakowicz in the third. Pennington took care of the rest, jamming Warriors hitters all afternoon and working the ball up-and-in and down-and-away. While his changeup was effective, his primary pitch was his fastball.
“Fastball inside, fastball away,” Pennington said. “Mixing up spots.”
He surrendered only five hits, all singles, and didn’t allow eighth-seeded Maine West (17-17) to hit for any sort of power. He generated nine groundouts with two double plays. Though he only had three strikeouts, he reared back on two of them and got them to end Maine West scoring threats in the first and sixth.
“Bob was on, he’s always on,” junior catcher Zach Parker said. “We call him the horse. We ride him.”
Pennington has been great all season. Coming into the game his ERA was 1.62, and the win was his ninth. He earned victories against Hinsdale Central, Waukegan, Niles West, Rolling Meadows, Evanston and Glenbrook South, losing only to a talented New Trier squad.
“He’s very poised,” coach Bill Milano said. “He keeps the ball low in the zone, throws strikes, fields his position. He trusts his teammates to make plays for him.”
Top-seeded Maine South (25-6) will play No. 4 Evanston on Wednesday in the Class 4A Loyola Sectional semifinal. Gehrig Parker is scheduled to pitch for Maine South and Pennington will play first. Pennington is in line to start in the sectional final game should the Hawks win Wednesday.
Pennington said he wants to get as far as he did last year when the Hawks made it all the way to the supersectional round. He’ll likely need to be a big contributor for his team to get that far again.
“He’s excellent,” Zach Parker said. “You don’t come across pitchers like that too often. He’s unbelievable. He’s a winner.”