CRYSTAL LAKE – There were encouraging aspects for Crystal Lake Central after surrendering a seven-run inning to Boylan.
The Tigers still had five turns at bat, if needed, and they had swung the bats well the first two innings.
What they really needed was someone on the mound to stop the bleeding. Central turned to sophomores Rhett Ozment and Carter Kelley and were not disappointed.
Ozment and Kelley shut out Boylan the rest of the game, each throwing two scoreless innings, as the Tigers came back for a 10-9 victory in a nonconference game Wednesday at Fred Tipps Field.
“Rhett really calmed everything down, was able to put up two zeroes, those were hard to come by today,” Tigers coach Andy Deain said. “He did a really nice job putting it in the strike zone and attacking hitters and working quick.
“He calmed us down and gave us a chance to come back. He did his job, that’s exactly what we wanted him to do. And that’s Carter’s second game closing for us. He’s done a really nice job on the back end.”
Central (4-2) scored in every inning. After cutting Boylan’s lead to 9-8 in the fifth inning, Connor Gibour singled to lead off the sixth. Ozment then worked the count full before ripping a double to the center field warning track to tie the score.
“I was just looking for a pitch,” Ozment said. “We focus a lot on looking for our spots and tracking pitches. I just got my fastball.”
Mason Lechowicz then laced the first pitch to left field to score Ozment. Deain did not hesitate sending Ozment, even though it looked like the play at home might be close. Boylan did not have a clean relay and there was no play at the plate.
“No matter where it was hit we were going to send him,” Deain said. “In that situation I think you have to.”
Kelley struck out the first two batters in the seventh, allowed an infield hit and issued a walk before retiring No. 3 hitter Jack Kerno on a fly ball to center field.
“I felt I still had momentum going my way after getting two strikeouts in a row,” Kelley said. “Now it’s time for contact, just play for weak contact, give my team a chance to make a play for me.
“After they had that big inning it was time to shut them down. I just had that mentality that nobody’s getting on base. We’re not giving up a single run. As the game went on, my team put me in an even better spot to go ahead and close that game for the squad. I was just glad to get a dub [win] for the team.”
Ozment is more of a position player and hitter, but was effective on the mound with four strikeouts and one walk over two innings. Kelley fanned three and walked two.
“As a team we focused on our breathing and being calm in tense situations,” Ozment said. “We wanted to take a deep breath and calm down.”
Gibour and Ozment both were 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Lechowicz was 2 for 2 with the game-winning RBI.
Nicco Contreras was 3 for 4 with two RBIs to lead the Titans (3-3). Boylan got eight of its 10 hits before Ozment and Kelley came in to pitch. Five of Boylan’s runs were unearned.
“They threw strikes and did what any pitcher is taught to do, make guys put the ball in play,” Titans coach Matt Weber said. “They fielded the ball a little bit cleaner the last couple innings than they did in the beginning. That was one of the bigger things that changed it.
“They made a couple nice plays and both pitchers made some big two-strike strikeouts and kept them in the game, and they chipped away and got the big hits at the end and we didn’t.”
Crystal Lake Central 10, Boylan 9
Boylan 207 000 0 – 9 10 1
CL Central 222 112 x – 10 11 4
WP: Kelley (2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K). LP: Scaldoni (1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K).
Top hitters–Boylan: Henry Berg 2-4(RBI), Jack Kerno 1-4 (2RBIs), Nico Contreras 3-4 (2RBIs), Jaxson Nowling 1-4 (2RBIs). CL Central: Sean Kempf 1-3 (RBI, 2R), Jaden Obaldo 1-3 (3B, 2R), Connor Gibour 2-3 (2B, 3RBIs), Tommy Korn 2-4 (2B, 3B), Rhett Ozmenr 2-3 (2B, 3 RBIs), Mason Lechowicz 2-2 (RBI, 2R).