JOLIET – George Limacher did not expect to be asked to log six innings of relief for the Joliet West baseball team Tuesday.
But just because he didn’t expect it did not mean he wasn’t ready to answer the call, as he responded to the challenge by allowing only one run over those six innings to a Plainfield South offense that seemed primed for a big day, as the Tigers claimed an 8-4 victory over the Cougars.
“I was really just trying to stay calm and throw strikes,” Limacher said. “Let the fielder’s do their job. I didn’t expect to throw six innings today, but you have to be ready for whatever. Today my curveball was a good putout pitch, but I was hitting my spots real well and that contributed to it too.”
Plainfield South went to work in the top of the first, using four hits and a walk to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Joliet West cut into the deficit with a two-run single from Matt Stariha. Even though the Tigers had tightened the gap, coach John Karczewski didn’t hesitate to make a move to try to keep West with striking distance.
“That’s kind of the way this group is, if one guy doesn’t have it, we’ve got someone willing to step up,” Karczewski said. “We saw it up and down the lineup today, there’s no quit in these guys, and I love them.”
Limacher kept Plainfield South from scoring again until the seventh. They weren’t flawless innings, in fact at least one Cougar reached in every inning, but South didn’t manage to score until a solitary run in the seventh and that allowed West a chance to get back into the driver’s seat.
The Tigers tied the score in the bottom of the second inning when Manny Rincon delivered an RBI single out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup. Joliet West seized control in the fourth when they strung together four hits and a walk, started by a Cam Karczewski triple, and finished with a string of RBI hits from Ty Batusich, Lucas Coyl and James Love that put them ahead, 6-3.
South continued to threaten but couldn’t get a key hit, and in the bottom of the sixth Batusich made a Cougars rally even more difficult as he blasted a long home run that scored Kevin Patrick for a 8-3 lead.
“We work pitchers. We try to get them high in the pitch counts,” Karczewski said. “We came through with big hits in big situations, and that’s why we got the W.”
The Cougars (12-3) managed to scratch across a run in the seventh but Limacher recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the game. Limacher finished his relief outing with nine strikeouts.
After starting the season 2-5, the Tigers (13-7-1) now have won 11 of their past 13. They’ve also grabbed control of the Southwest Prairie Conference West Division race. They now are 10-1 in divisional play with one game remaining against Plainfield South on Thursday and next week’s three-game series against Plainfield Central serving as the only obstacle toward a conference title.
“It’s fun. It’s been fun to come to the ballpark with this group,” Karczewski said.