Prairie Ridge baseball takes home regional title

McHENRY – The McHenry baseball team had fallen five runs behind Prairie Ridge before this season.

For a similar reason, in a similar inning, in a similar game.

This time, however, the Wolves weren't about to let them back in it.

Prairie Ridge added an insurance run apiece in the next two innings as Wolves pitcher Mike Reitcheck survived his only hiccup in the fifth inning and led his team to a 7-3 win in the Class 4A McHnery Regional.

Reitcheck and his fellow seniors grabbed the regional trophy, then circled up and received the diplomas they couldn't stick around to receive when Prairie Ridge (25-11) held graduation earlier in the day.

"It gave me some time to catch my breath," Reitcheck (9-1) said of the Wolves' five-run second inning.

Mike Hallstrom started the big inning with a double while Colin Rempert had an RBI single, Matt Furst hit an RBI sacrifice bunt and Austin Covers added a two-out two-RBI single to center field as his Prairie Ridge teammates sat in the dugout and chanted non-words in a similar fashion to the "Finding Nemo" fish bowl scene.

"We just really tried to get loud and get in his head, and it worked," Hallstrom said.

Rempert finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs while Covers was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Danny Pecoraro scored a pair of runs.

Reitcheck allowed six hits and struck out four in the win.

"He's been this good all year," Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro said. "He did a nice job the last couple innings being more efficient and keeping his pitch count down."

Prairie Ridge will face Dundee-Crown, which it split a pair of regular season games against, in Wednesday's Class 4A Huntley Sectional semifinals with Jacobs meeting Hononegah in the other half of the bracket on Thursday.

McHenry (23-15), playing in its first regional final since 2007, scored its runs in the fifth when junior catcher Cody Freund hit an RBI double and then scored on a Reitcheck wild pitch.

"We hadn't won a regional game since I've been here, so to win two this year was a big step," Freund said.

McHenry loaded the bases in the third inning on singles from Payton Lykins, Freund and Cole Hoeppel-Tranter but came away empty and didn't manage a baserunner in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh innings.

"This is probably the toughest schedule we've played since I've been here," McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler said. "We won some we probably shouldn't have and lost some we shouldn't have. But overall, I think it was a great season."

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