OTTAWA – In any game when each team’s top pitcher is climbing the hill, taking full advantage of any scoring chances that arise is of the utmost importance.
That was the case in Tuesday’s Interstate 8 Conference game, as No. 1 right-handers – La Salle-Peru junior Julius Sanchez and Ottawa senior Jace Addis – hooked up in what proved to be a classic midseason pitchers’ duel.
In the end, the Cavaliers scored one run in the third and added two more in the sixth, while the Pirates had a handful of chances come up empty as the visitors earned a 3-0 triumph here at King Field.
“We knew coming into today that Ottawa had only one loss in the conference and we were going to have to bring our all-around best effort. I knew (Jace) would be pitching for them, and he’s pretty good, so I knew I’d have to pitch a solid game.”— La Salle-Peru pitcher Julius Sanchez
Sanchez picked up the win after going six strong innings, allowing four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts, with Drake Weber throwing a scoreless bottom of the seventh for the save. Addis went the distance, giving up just three hits, one walk and fanning 11, but recorded six hit batters, three of those scoring.
“I feel my fastball and breaking ball were pretty good today, and I was confident throwing either in tight spots,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t have a real good feel with my changeup, but I was able to really work my two-seamer down and away, especially late in the game.
“We knew coming into today that Ottawa had only one loss in the conference and we were going to have to bring our all-around best effort. I knew [Jace] would be pitching for them, and he’s pretty good, so I knew I’d have to pitch a solid game.”
L-P (3-6, 3-4) scored the contest’s opening run when Alex Galindo was grazed on the arm by an Addis fastball, went to second base after an errant pickoff throw, to third on a sacrifice bunt by leadoff hitter Mason Lynch, and scored on Jack Scheri’s groundout to shortstop.
In the sixth, Weber and Sanchez reached on back-to-back hit by pitches before Aidan Van Duzer lined a pitch to the base of the center field fence to score Weber. Seth Adams then followed with a bloop single to left-center to plate Sanchez.
“I’m so proud of the team for the way they grinded all game long,” said L-P coach Matthew Glupczynski. “This wasn’t maybe a typical conference or even rivalry game, but more of a regional final or sectional kind of game feel.
“In games like today, you have to do the little things to scratch out runs and then pitch and field the heck out of it. I felt we did that, and it started with Julius on the mound. He is our No. 1, and he really had it going, plus defensively we had his back all the way. It was so satisfying to see this young team put together seven very strong innings against a really good opponent and come out with the win.”
Ottawa (8-3, 5-2) outhit L-P 5-3, but left five runners in scoring position.
In the first, an Addis leadoff base hit and a sacrifice bunt from Levi Sholders was followed by consecutive punchouts by Sanchez. In the fourth, a leadoff single by Sholders and wild pitch preceded two flyouts and a strikeout. In the fifth, Sanchez loaded the bases with a hit and two walks, but he escaped again by recording a strikeout. In the sixth, a first-and-third, two-out situation ended with K. Finally in the seventh off Weber, Addis had a two-out hit followed by a walk to Sholders to bring the tying run to the plate, but a flyball to center closed things out.
“Jace is our No. 1 for a reason and really threw the ball well enough to win today,” said Ottawa coach Brent Moore. “He had only given up one run through five, and we had a couple of pretty good opportunities to break through. Against a kid like Sanchez, you have to take advantage of those chances when you get them, because more often than not there aren’t going to be too many.
“We were about one or two hits away from the scoreboard looking the other way, but you just have to tip your hat to a pitcher like that for finding a way to work out of trouble.
“We will just reload and hopefully be better on Wednesday.”
The two rivals return to the field Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. – this time at Dickinson Field in Oglesby – in the second game of the two-game set.