CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge players relied on their coach’s philosophy to win their first game of the season Tuesday.
Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro wants his players to put the ball in play in any way they can, and a few small-ball decisions helped Prairie Ridge take down Fremd, 6-4.
“That’s his philosophy, and I definitely think it applied to today,” Davis Eimen said. “That’s part of the reason why we won.”
The teams were tied at 3 in the bottom of the fifth when Eimen bunted in a runner from third to give his team a 4-3 lead. Pecoraro caught Fremd off guard when he sent Zach Bentsen to steal home, making it a 5-3 Prairie Ridge lead.
Nathan La Fever singled in an insurance run for Prairie Ridge (1-3) in the sixth to make it 6-3, and Jack Tobin came in to earn the save in the seventh.
“We took a chance, and it worked out for us,” Pecoraro said of Bentsen’s steal of home. “In a close game, that’s a big run for us there.”
Eimen finished with two RBIs, driving in a run in the first inning to give his team a 3-1 lead. Tobin and Mason McKim each doubled in runs in the first inning.
Noah Schlup looked sharp in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. He pitched five innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits. The senior walked one and struck out a batter.
Pecoraro was proud of the way his starting pitcher regrouped after losing to Wauconda, 13-8, in his first start of the season.
“I thought today he settled in, pitched really well,” Pecoraro said. “He fought through some adversity and still pitched well.”
Fremd (0-3) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Mitch Burchert doubled in a run with a hit over the left fielder’s head. The Vikings tied the game in the third inning when Burchert hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Bo O’Brien knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice.
The Vikings made it interesting in the seventh when Thomas Jusi knocked in a run on a single to make it 6-4, but Tobin got Burchert to fly out to right field to end the game.
Fremd starter Dean Rokkas pitched four innings and allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six.
Vikings coach Chris Piggott was proud that his team fought back, but there were just too many miscues to overcome.
“We have been making way too many mistakes,” Piggott said. “That’s on me. We’ve got to do better attacking the zone, on the mound, we walked too many guys. When you make some errors on top of it, that’s not a good recipe for success.”
On Wednesday, Prairie Ridge will host Stevenson, and Fremd is scheduled to play Maine South.
Pecoraro still is trying to find the perfect roles for each of his players early in the season, and he’s hoping he can have it all worked out when his team starts Fox Valley Conference play against McHenry on Monday.
“We’re just trying to figure out where these young guys fit, juniors who are now seniors fit, who our starters are and who our relievers are,” Pecoraro said. “It’s just a process.”