CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South third baseman Brian Fuentes had an opportunity to end a tie ballgame against Prairie Ridge with two runners on base in the seventh inning Wednesday. The senior struck out swinging to end the inning.
Fast forward about 24 hours to Thursday.
Wednesday’s game was suspended because of darkness with the score knotted, 7-7, after eight innings. In the bottom of the ninth Thursday, Fuentes found himself up to bat again with two runners on.
“My approach was just look for a base hit,” Fuentes said. “Yesterday, I had an opportunity for a walk-off, unfortunately I didn’t (hit it). Today I was given another opportunity. I just tried to take advantage and make an RBI.”
Fuentes sent a 2-1 pitch into center field, scoring Griffin Bright from second base. Fuentes’ teammates mobbed him at first base.
The celebration didn’t end there.
The Gators went on to beat Prairie Ridge, 18-0, in five innings in Thursday’s regularly scheduled game at Prairie Ridge.
“It’s great to come through,” South coach Brian Bogda said. “We let a couple opportunities slip away during that game (Wednesday).”
Wednesday’s first eight innings had been a back-and-forth affair. South (16-1, 7-1 Fox Valley Conference) jumped to a 4-0 lead, but the Wolves (7-12, 2-9 FVC) bounced back. Each team scored runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to send it to extra innings.
“We battled the whole game,” Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro said. “We had numerous chances to win the game late in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning.”
It wasn’t the prettiest game either, with both teams combining for 12 errors.
Bogda said Fuentes doesn’t shy away from the clutch situations, and Fuentes didn’t slow down after the walk-off hit. He went 3 for 3 in the second game, clubbing three doubles and driving in three runs.
In both games combined – including Wednesday’s eight innings – Fuentes went 8 for 9 with four doubles and six RBIs.
“I just tried to look for doubles, hits to a gap,” Fuentes said.
Left-hander Blake Kuffel earned the win in Game 2. He pitched all five innings, allowing one hit and striking out five.
“I felt like I was in command and really got ahead of the count,” Kuffel said. “The fastball today was my best pitch.”
The Gators scored four runs in the second inning, then broke the game open with 11 runs in the third.
Every starter in the Gators' lineup recorded a hit. South received huge production from its bottom three hitters. First baseman Noah Tyrrell went 3 for 4 with a triple and two RBIs. Second baseman Scott Skwarek was 2 for 3 with two doubles and four RBIs. In the No. 9 spot, center fielder Brent Chubb went 3 for 3 with a double and four RBIs.
“It fuels our fire," Skwarek said of the big inning. "We get up even more and are able to put the pressure on their defense and have a good inning. We had a really good approach. We were shooting the gaps all day.”
Prairie Ridge starting pitcher Joe Hansen suffered the loss in 2 1/3 innings pitched. The Wolves' lone hit came from center fielder Colin Lamb, who doubled in the first inning.
Crystal Lake South, jr., 2B
Skwarek drove in four runs from the No. 8 spot in the lineup in Thursday's regularly scheduled game. He collected two doubles and scored three runs.
18: Crystal Lake South recorded 18 hits in Thursday’s 18-0 win.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Skwarek’s two doubles and four RBIs all came in the third inning after the Gators batted around, sending 15 batters to the plate.
Crystal Lake South 8, Prairie Ridge 7 (9 inn.)
Prairie Ridge 000 023 200 — 7 9 8
Crystal Lake South 310 011 101 — 8 12 4
WP: Paul (2IP, 2H, 0R, 1K, 0BB)
LP: Powers (2/3IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB)
Top hitters — Prairie Ridge: Mizell 2-5 (run), Hansen 2-5 (2 RBI, run), Powers 2-4 (RBI, run, 2B). Crystal Lake South: Bright 3-6 (3 runs, RBI), Fuentes 5-6 (2B, 3RBI, 2R).
Crystal Lake South 18, Prairie Ridge 0 (5 inn.)
Crystal Lake South 0411 30 — 18 18 1
Prairie Ridge 000 00 — 0 1 1
WP: Kuffel (5IP, 1H, 0R, 5K, 0BB)
LP: Hansen (2 1/3IP, 10H, 6R, 10R, 10ER, 1K, 1BB)
Top hitters — Crystal Lake South: Fuentes 3-3 (3 2B, 3 RBI, run), Skwarek 2-3 (2 2B, 4RBI, 3 runs), Chubb 3-3 (2B, 4 RBI, 2 runs). Prairie Ridge: Lamb 1-2 (2B)