CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge’s Danny Pecoraro let out a “Whoop!” as he scampered home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh to tie the score with Palatine.
The Wolves, who had not strung hits together, had erased a three-run deficit and would at worse get extra innings. The way Prairie Ridge’s bullpen was tossing up zeroes, that prospect seemed encouraging.
But the Wolves left the winning run at third in the seventh and eighth innings, and at second in the ninth. And eventually it was the Pirates who broke through with three runs in the 11th for a 6-3 nonconference baseball victory Wednesday at Lippold Park.
“Anytime you play that many innings it’s never good to not come out on top,” said Prairie Ridge center fielder Austin Covers, who was 4 for 6. “It’s always great to win when you play that many. We battled … tough loss.”
Palatine (2-0) did not hit Wolves reliever Jackson Marwitz hard in the 11th, doing its damage with well-placed bunts by Matt Lamm and Nick Orlando. Leadoff hitter Chris Macahon then singled in the winning run.
“It was my job to bunt them over and I couldn’t get it done,” Macahon said. “I stepped out of the box and thought I had to get something done. I was sitting on inside half [of the strike zone] because I knew they were pounding me inside. I just choked up a little and got it through the hole [at shortstop].”
Vince Clesceri threw 4 1/3 hitless innings of relief and Matt Mohapp followed with 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Marwitz then threw a scoreless 10th inning, but the Wolves (0-3) could not score.
“We got ahead of hitters well and threw strikes with multiple pitches, and our defense played great behind us,” Clesceri said. “I thought we had a chance until the end. It’s a good group of guys and fights back. It was close the whole game.”
Prairie Ridge was almost able to end the game in the seventh. Pecoraro scored with no outs and Covers singled and advanced on a wild pitch. Jack Myers was intentionally walked and Marcus Sargeant bunted them up one base each.
Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro called for a squeeze with Dustin Thelander at the plate, but Pirates pitcher Trace Holloway’s breaking ball dived and hit the ground near the plate. Catcher Brad Bauer blocked the ball and Covers was caught for the out.
“I’m a little mad at myself for that one,” Glen Pecoraro said. “Maybe I should have been a little more patient and waited for 2-1 or 3-1. We did a nice job coming back, we hit some balls hard right at people.”
Reliever Alex Breytenbach threw the last two innings to get the win for Palatine.
“I like the fact that we showed some resolve,” Pirates coach Paul Belo said. “We were calm in situations where you can get tight. To see that early in the season, I was really excited about that.”
Pecoraro was frustrated not only at losing to Belo, his close friend and former college teammate, but at the missed opportunities.
“The most important thing is we’re playing, we’re getting game at-bats,” Pecoraro said. “Our pitchers are getting game pitches.”