Baseball: Owen Lopykinski’s big bat helps Plainfield Central top Joliet Central

Plainfield Central's Owen Lopykinski

PLAINFIELD – Plainfield Central’s Owen Lopykinski said he struggled earlier this season with the bases loaded.

He didn’t have that problem Tuesday in Plainfield Central’s 12-2 Southwest Prairie Conference win over Joliet Central.

Lopykinski, Plainfield Central’s left fielder, hit a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning and came to bat with the bases loaded in the sixth and his team leading Joliet Central 9-2. Lopykinski hit a 1-1 pitch into the corner in left for a double, driving home teammates Gavin Gurnica and Ricky Robinson to put the Wildcats ahead 11-2. After an intentional walk to Blaz Miocic loaded the bases, winning pitcher Danny Doherty singled to left scoring Mason Smith with the 12th run which invoked the 10-run rule in the Wildcats’ victory.

“I struggled earlier in the year with the bases loaded,” Lopykinski said. “I didn’t want to let another chance slip by. I put a good swing on it. On the home run, it was a fastball high and in. I was looking for something that would let me go out and eat, and I got it.

“We had a lot of energy in the dugout and were having a great time. Our seniors, especially Gavin Gurnica, have been picking me up all year, telling me I will be OK, and that has made me a lot more confident at the plate. We feel like we are on to great things. Things are coming together really well for us.”

Plainfield Central (13-9 overall, 6-2 SPC), which won its fifth straight, spotted the Steelmen (7-16-1, 1-7) a 1-0 lead. Andrew Nixon led off the game with a single and stole second. He came home on a single to left by Rodney DeSilva (2 for 3). Joliet Central’s other run came on a home run by Jay Zepeda leading off the top of the fourth.

Doherty was brilliant in his complete-game win, striking out seven with no walks while scattering eight hits. He threw just 85 pitches in six innings, 61 of which were strikes.

“Danny did a great job,” Plainfield Central coach Rob Keane said. “We needed that. Any time you can get a long outing like that out of a starter it helps the rest of the pitching staff. He was able to pitch with a lead most of the way, and he was very efficient.

“We hit up and down the lineup today. Nine different players got at least one hit, which we like to see. Owen had a big day and JT Augustyniak and Hector Corona have been outstanding all year. Kyle Perry has settled into the leadoff spot.”

Corona was 1 for 2 with an RBI double and also reached base on a walk and a hit by pitch. Augustyniak was 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk, while Gurnica had two-run double in the six-run sixth. Doherty helped himself with a sacrifice fly, a double and two RBIs.

For Joliet Central, starting pitcher Danny Quiros retired the first six batters he faced before Plainfield Central scored three in the bottom of the third. The Wildcats added two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth before the six-run eruption in the sixth. DeSilva and Nathan Maldonado each had two hits for the Steelmen as well.

“We played a good game for the most part,” Joliet Central coach Kevin Fitzgerald said. “Plainfield Central got some big hits with guys on base and we didn’t. We had some opportunities with guys on base, but we didn’t come up with a big hit when we needed it.

“Danny Quiros did a good job for us. He just ran out of gas. Jay Zepeda had a nice day and so did Rodney DeSliva. We’ll keep working and try to put a few complete games together.”