It wasn’t easy for Alec Martinez, but the Sandburg pitcher came through when he needed to most.
Martinez loaded the bases in the first and second innings Wednesday night against Lockport, yet came away relatively unscathed. He limited the Porters to a single run after earning two of his seven strikeouts with the bases jammed.
Martinez allowed nine hits through six innings but stranded a dozen baserunners as Sandburg went on to defeat the host Porters 7-2 in a regional semifinal of the Phil Lawler Classic summer baseball tournament.
“I got in a lot of trouble,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t blowing anything by them, so I had to grind out those first two innings — actually the whole game. Luckily, I got through them.”
Sandburg (14-2) meet Joliet Catholic (14-0) at 7 p.m. Thursday in the regional final. Lockport finished 13-7.
“I tip my cap to Alec Martinez,” Lockport coach Andy Satunas said. “He did a great job commanding the outer half of the strike zone and our hitters didn’t make the adjustments they needed to.”
Martinez also helped his cause at the plate. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI doubles, the first of which gave Sandburg a 4-1 lead in the fifth.
“I really like playing at this field,” Martinez said. “It’s a hitter’s ballpark. It’s tough to pitch here because the gaps are wide open. It was a great game for all of us.”
Sandburg’s Ken Michalowski had the biggest hit of the night. With the score tied after three innings, Michalowski smashed a double that drove in Ben Kociper and Taylor Gold for a 3-1 Eagles lead. Michalowski also scored in the second inning on an RBI by Jim Landgraf.
“My first at-bat, (Lockport pitcher Jordan Johnston) was really bringing the heat, so I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Michalowski said. “Thank God I put it into left-center field.”
Johnston consistently hit his fastball in the upper 80s (mph) but walked away with the loss. He went 42/3 innings, allowing five runs on two hits.
Anthony Cocco starred at the plate for Lockport, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. He gave Lockport a 1-0 lead in the second when he knocked in Collin Cronberg.