Baseball: Prairie Ridge falls short against Deerfield in Class 3A regional opener

Prairie Ridge's Riley Golden throws a pitch during a Class 3A Deerfield baseball regional game against Deerfield on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the Deerfield High School.

DEERFIELD – Prairie Ridge got everything it needed out of junior left-hander Riley Golden and freshman righty Owen Satterlee, who limited Deerfield to two hits.

Riley struck out nine in five innings, Satterlee added one more. And the Wolves’ defense committed only one error, which was inconsequential.

Scoring was another issue entirely for Prairie Ridge. The Wolves got seven hits off Deerfield’s Mac Jones, but when he needed, he made the right pitch and the Warriors sparkled defensively behind him.

One of Deerfield’s hits was Tyler Bernstein’s RBI single in the sixth, which was enough for Jones as the No. 14-seeded Warriors beat No. 4 Prairie Ridge 1-0 Wednesday in their Class 3A Deerfield Regional semifinal.

Deerfield (11-23) meets the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between No. 5 Grayslake North and No. 12 Antioch in Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship.

“I let my defense work,” Jones said. “I only had two strikeouts, I just kept rolling them ground balls and fly balls and my defense was great. We haven’t been playing like an 11-win team all year. We got a little unlucky, but this is the team we’ve been all year.”

Prairie Ridge (18-16) felt good about its postseason chances with a squad of mostly junior players. Golden and Satterlee had the Wolves in position to have ace Karson Stiefer throwing in the title game, but they just could not get a run across the plate.

“We battled all year and finally thought we figured it out and had some momentum coming into the playoffs,” said Wolves second baseman Brennan Coyle, who was 3 for 4. “We just got unlucky today. Overall, it was a good year, we just couldn’t come up at the right time.”

Prairie Ridge put runners on third base in each of the first three innings. In the second inning, Gabe Winkelman beat out an infield hit and Sean Sherwood doubled deep to center field with no outs.

Gabe Porter lined a shot at Jones on the mound, who grabbed it and threw to third for a double play. An inning later, Coyle singled and advanced to third on a ground ball and a wild pitch. With two outs, Ryan Myers hit a hard grounder up the middle, but second baseman Matthew Willner made a backhanded stab and jump throw to nip Myers at first, preventing a run.

“Unbelievable play up the middle. It was awesome,” Jones said. “It was like a [Derek] Jeter. It was crazy. It was awesome.”

Golden finished five innings with 88 pitches, nine strikeouts, two walks and one hit.

“Just attacking with first-pitch strikes was big in this game here,” Golden said. “We knew they would struggle with outside fastballs, so we pounded that. And I just trusted my defense behind me.

“I wanted to give the team the best chance to get a win. We had some really hard-hit ground balls. Just getting those strikeouts put us in a position to win the game.”

The ball bounces after Prairie Ridge's Karson Stiefer attempted to catch a foul ball during a Class 3A Deerfield baseball regional game against Deerfield on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, at the Deerfield High School.

Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro had no issues with either of his pitchers.

“[Golden] was outstanding, couldn’t ask for more from him,” Pecoraro said. “Satterlee did a great job in relief. We couldn’t ask more from our pitchers.

“Every ball we hit hard they made plays on. They made some great plays on some tough balls. In a 1-0 game, one out or one hit is going to make a difference.”

The Warriors finally broke through in the sixth. Satterlee hit Mason Hirsch, who advanced on a wild pitch and then moved to third on cleanup man Ethan Katz’s sacrifice bunt.

Bernstein ripped a 1-1 pitch to left field to bring in Hirsch.

Deerfield coach Mark Januszewski felt confident with Jones on the hill.

“He’s a bulldog. He was our 1 last year, he’s our 1 this year and he wants the ball in big games,”Januszewski said. “He’s probably not super happy with his pitching stats, but playoff time is for him. Last year, he threw a great game against Carmel and he did the same thing today.

“We’ve struggled a little bit defensively in spots. We’ve gotten good pitching, but our offense and defense sometimes hasn’t been there. We said, ‘Let’s play our best baseball at regional time.’ That was one of our best-pitched and defensive games we played this year.”

While Jones did not have any perfect innings, he did not allow more than one runner on base at the same time after the third. No Prairie Ridge runner made it past second in the last four innings.

“Their kid did a good job keeping us off balance and got some weak balls, he battled the entire game,” Pecoraro said. “They played a great game. We’ve been playing good baseball the last couple weeks. We played well against Palatine and Barrington. We felt good going into this game.”

Deerfield 1, Prairie Ridge 0
Deerfield 000 001 0 – 1 2 1
Prairie Ridge 000 000 0 – 0 7 1
WP: Mac Jones (7IP. 7H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 2K). LP: Owen Satterlee (2IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K).
Top hitters–Deerfield: Tyler Bernstein 1-3 (RBI). Prairie Ridge: Brennan Coyle 3-4, Sean Sherwood 2-3 (2B).
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