Nazareth ousts Prairie Ridge in summer baseball state semifinal

LISLE – A day earlier, Prairie Ridge enjoyed the success of an offensive barrage in one inning – a five-run third en route to an 8-2 win over Crystal Lake South.

Wednesday, the Wolves were on the other end. 

Nazareth Academy (24-11) scored eight runs in the bottom of the second as Prairie Ridge (20-5) lost, 12-1, in the semifinals of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic at Benedictine University. The mercy rule kicked in after the top of the fifth and ended the game. The loss knocked the Wolves out of the double-elimination tournament.

"For the most part, our pitching all spring and most of the summer was very solid," Prairie Ridge head coach Glen Pecoraro said. "What you saw today was very uncharacteristic of our team. But that happens and it’s part of the game.

"As a coach, I’ve been on both ends of that. Hopefully our guys learn from that and get better." 

Prairie Ridge starting pitcher Thomas Keaty gave up five runs on three hits, three walks and a hit bastsman before being replaced.

Keaty, a senior, said he couldn’t locate his fastball.

"The game sped up on me and I put myself in a tough jam," Keaty said. "Mentally, I wasn’t prepared I guess." 

Keaty was pulled after outfielder Matt Flach drove in two runs with a double for a 5-0 lead in the second. Flach went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a stolen base.

“Anything can happen in baseball and we know we have to keep pouring it on,” Flach said. “We just took the runs where we could get them.”

Senior Jayden Jimenez replaced Keaty, and Nazareth added three more runs before the end of the second. In the bottom of the third, Nazareth scored four more runs. 

Prairie Ridge scored its only run on a sacrifice fly by junior Hunter Mason in the top of the third. The Wolves had the bases loaded before Mason’s at-bat but couldn’t add on any more runs. 

Nazareth starting pitcher Chris Campagna struck out seven and allowed two hits in his five innings. 

Nazareth moves on to face the winner of Wednesday's late game between Prospect and Joliet Catholic. The final takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday at Benedictine. 

This was Prairie Ridge’s second trip this year to a state semifinal. They finished fourth in the IHSA state tournament in the spring. 

"It means a lot and shows you that we can still compete after losing all the key players that we did from last year,” Keaty said. “I learned we’ve got a really good team and we can compete.” 

Pecoraro said he is proud of his players and really likes the group he has going forward.

“I’m hoping they got a taste of this and want this in the spring,” Pecoraro said. "And, we’re going to know what it takes for this come springtime."

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