After being shut out Tuesday, the Ottawa baseball team was set on getting its offense back on track in Wednesday’s rematch with rival La Salle-Peru.
The Pirates did just that.
Ottawa got going early with two runs in the first inning and kept adding on throughout the game for a 10-6 Interstate Eight Conference victory at Dickinson Field in Oglesby.
“When you lose the first game of the series on your home field against a quality pitcher like (Julius) Sanchez, you just have to have the refuse to lose mentality going on the road,” Ottawa coach Brent Moore said. “That’s the mentality we had pretty much from the end of the game last night and getting off the bus today. We knew we had to get the bats going.”
In the top of the first, L-P starter Drew Lane retired the first two batters, but Evan Evola got things started with a single.
Luke Cushing then reached on an error before Michael Bruner delivered a two-run single to right field.
“That was really important,” Moore said. “We’ve talked about how we’ve been having a hard time scoring. We had two outs in the first and we got some guys on. I thought we were going to go back into the same little rut again, but Michael came in and had a quality at-bat with a two-strike approach and got the ball to land in the outfield. We got two runs and that really got our confidence to get going.”
The Pirates (9-3, 6-2 I8) scored four more runs in the third as they capitalized on an error, a throw that got away on a double play attempt and another two-run single from Bruner.
“I thought we did really well,” Bruner said. “We hit well. They made a couple mistakes out there, and I think we did pretty well capitalizing on those.”
L-P tied the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Sanchez and an RBI double by Aidan Van Duzer, and the Cavaliers rallied in the fifth with a pair of runs.
Sanchez delivered another RBI single and later scored on a single by Nolan Van Duzer to make it a 6-4 game.
However, the Cavs (3-7, 3-5 I8) never got any closer and Ottawa added two runs in the sixth and another pair in the seventh.
“We summarized it in the huddle as we just didn’t get the key hit or we didn’t make the key play,” L-P coach Matt Glupczynski said. “There were multiple times our pitcher got two outs, and there may have been runners on, and we just couldn’t slam the door to get the third out. We had multiple times where we had guys on base and we just couldn’t get the key hit or couldn’t string a couple hits together. Hats off to their pitcher. He did a great job, and we struggled to make adjustments. When you’re not able to do that, this is normally what happens.”
Ottawa’s insurance runs in the sixth came on a sacrifice fly by Levi Sholders and an RBI single by Evola.
In the seventh, Adam Weitzel was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on a passed ball and scored when the throw to third got away. Ottawa’s final run came on a sacrifice fly by Ty Trovero.
“When it got to 6-4 and we were back in a really competitive game, the message to the guys was it’s a long game and they’re the home team, so we have to keep pressure on them,” Moore said. “We said if we tag on a few more, it’s really going to help whoever is on the mound and our defense. That proved to be the point late in the game, especially in the seventh.”
Jake Serby earned the win for Ottawa as he allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts, one walk and four hit batters in six innings.
Anthony Cooper came in with two runners on in the seventh and closed out the game.
“When Jake is on the mound, he’s always going to give us a chance to win because he’s consistently in the zone, which he was again tonight,” Moore said.