CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central pitcher Reece Mensching silenced and frustrated Prairie Ridge for 6 2/3 innings.
The Wolves had only a handful of decent swings and a sliver of hope as Dom Listi stepped in with runners on first and second.
“Coach (Glen Pecoraro) kept telling us to keep battling, work deep into the count,” said Listi, a left-handed hitter who worked the count full against Mensching. “I was able to work deep and I got a fastball wide of the plate and put a good piece on it and we were able to win the game.”
Listi thought his ball had a chance when he saw it slicing away from Tigers left fielder Chase Alig. He put his head down and ran, then heard the cheers from the Wolves’ dugout as Jacob Reichert and Keegan Garis raced home for a 3-2 Fox Valley Conference win Thursday.
“We didn’t see (Mensching) last year, he’s really good,” Pecoraro said. “I was very impressed. That kid can pitch, three-pitch mix, threw any pitch at any time in the count. Two strikes and (Listi) put a barrel on it. We were lucky to win the game.”
The victory kept Prairie Ridge (12-3, 6-1) one game ahead of Huntley in the FVC. Central fell to 6-5 overall and 1-2 in FVC play.
Listi was the last batter Mensching could face. He started the at-bat with 102 pitches and the IHSA pitch-count limit is 105, although pitchers can go over if they start an at-bat under the limit.
Prairie Ridge’s Michael Patterson led off the inning with a single, only the fourth hit off of Mensching, a senior right-hander who will pitch at McHenry County College next year. Brennan Kelly bunted Patterson to second and Jacob Reichert reached on an error sending Patterson to third.
Garis’ safety squeeze bunt went into the air before falling, so Patterson got a late jump from third and Mensching threw him out at home, leaving it up to Listi.
“We threw an outside fastball, low, it gets results,” Mensching said. “He definitely got a good swing on it. It was a good pitch and a good swing. We played really well. I’m not too mad, physical mistakes happen, but I know if we can compete like that in any game, we can hang with any team. I’m happy to see us do that. It (stinks) that we lost, but it’s OK.”
Mensching struck out three, walked two and allowed no earned runs.
“Reece made a quality pitch in that count and we’ll live with the results,” Tigers coach Andy Deain said. “It was a great game against a great program. Two good programs going at it, that’s what we want to be. If we can play like that the rest of the year we’ll give ourselves opportunities to compete with anybody.”
Prairie Ridge junior righty Braeden Harrell picked up the victory with four scoreless innings of relief, striking out two and giving up two hits.
Central got an RBI groundout from Will Welder and an RBI single from Dean Mlaka for its two runs in the third.
STAR OF THE GAME
Reece Mensching, Crystal Lake Central, sr., P
Mensching threw 108 pitches for a complete game, striking out three and allowing five hits, with zero earned runs.
3: Strikeouts in four scoreless relief innings from Prairie Ridge's Braeden Harrell.
AND ANOTHER THING...
Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro on Harrell's relief performance: "I was happy with the job Braeden Harrell did, he came in and shut them down. He was outstanding."
Prairie Ridge 3, Crystal Lake Central 2
CL Central 002 000 0 – 2 7 4
Prairie Ridge 000 100 2 – 3 5 1
WP: Braeden Harrell, 1-0 (4IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 3K). LP: Reece Mensching, 2-1 (6.2IP, 5H, 3R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K).
Top hitters–CL Central: Will Welder 1-3 (RBI), Dean Mlaka 1-2 (RBI), Jimmy Mills 1-3 (2B, R). Prairie Ridge: Dom Listi 1-4 (2B, 2RBIs), Michael Patterson 2-3.