Minooka Powers Past Joliet West In Extras

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

JOLIET, IL – Minooka’s Cristian Sanchez was unstoppable at the plate on Thursday afternoon, unless you count an umpires decision to call him out at the plate in the top of the first inning for starting with his back foot out of the batters’ box. Controversy ensued and Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic was tossed protecting his player, but the play lit a fire under the Georgetown-bound Sanchez, who went on to post four hits (home run, triple, two singles) and five RBI in leading the Indians to an 11-3 victory in eight innings.

Sanchez said, “All year I’ve been there, and I felt like I was in the box, but it’s his call. I was upset, but coach said don’t change your routine and I kept looking for a pitch to drive in my next at bats”.

With the score knotted at 3-3 after a seven inning duel between Joliet West’s  Robert Talarico (6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 9 K, 1 BB) and Minooka’s Miguel Ruiz (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 K, 7 BB) the Indians exploded for eight runs in the top of the eighth inning.

With one out and the bases loaded off Tigers’ reliever Colton Foote, Minooka’s Jake Null hit a ground ball to first base with the infield drawn in. It looked as though Joliet West and Foote may wiggle out of the jam, but the throw home tipped off the mitt of sophomore catcher Eastin May, and gave the Indians a 4-3 advantage.

The Minooka offense then exploded for seven more runs on six hits in the inning, starting when Sanchez stepped to the plate and crushed a three-run triple to deep center field to break the game open. Nick Petrak followed with an RBI single to left, Tyler Paulsen singled, and both scored as junior third baseman Joe Butler (3-for-4, 2 R) crushed an RBI-double off the base of the wall in center field. Senior catcher Cole Thompson (Aurora signee) finished off the scoring with an RBI single, giving the Indians the final 11-3 advantage.

“Nothing surprises me with him (Sanchez)”, said Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic on his star hitter’s huge day. “He’s hitting .500 at the varsity level this spring and it takes a lot of composure to keep his head in the game after the situation in the first inning”.

Talarico and Ruiz both battled throughout their respective outings, with neither ace having their best stuff on a hitter’s type day with the wind blowing out to center. Joliet West took an early 2-0 lead after two innings, thanks to an RBI double in the first by senior DH Griffin McGuire and an RBI single to right by left fielder Alex Davis (2-for-3, SAC).

Sanchez made it 2-1 with a no doubt homer to left in the top of the third, while West added another run in the third to make it 3-1 when Austin Poch walked with the bases loaded scoring Talarico (who doubled to lead off the inning).

Ruiz navigated around seven walks to hold the Tigers down to three runs in his seven innings, when it looked like he may be bounced from the game in the third. “He’s a tough kid that keeps us in every game”, said Petrovic. “We are never going to be out of it with him on the mound, we knew he’d rebound and hold them to three. It was a gutsy performance and it shows what Minooka baseball means to him.”

Minooka tied the game at three in the fifth thanks to a Tiger defensive miscue. With one out freshman standout shortstop Hayden Laczynski hit a ground ball to second base that was booted. After a walk, Sanchez came through with an RBI line drive to right field. Nick Petrak lofted a fly ball to right to score the second run of the inning, before Talarico struck out the final hitter to end the rally.

“Robert was gutsy, he battled all day and was good enough to win on the mound, but that’s been our story all season…good pitching and couldn’t come up with timely hitting”, said Joliet West coach Mike Karczewski. “I’m going to miss these seniors, they’ve won a lot of games for this program. Kids like Cody Grosse, a four year starter for us, laid it all out there every game”.

The Chicago-state bound Grosse finished 1-for-3 at the plate with a double, a walk, and a run scored, impressing with several diving defensive plays throughout the contest.

Sanchez relieved Ruiz after the Indians eight-run rally, retiring the side in order in the bottom of the eighth on two flyouts and a strikeout.

Minooka (21-13) is streaking late, after enduring a 3-10 start battling through injuries, and has now won 18 of their last 21. “We never got down in the dumps, we preached attitude, effort, and hustle...focusing on winning every day and our kids bought in and turned it around,” Petrovic added.

The Indians take on Plainfield South, who defeated Bradley-Bourbonnais 12-0 on Wednesday, Saturday at Joliet West at 10 am for the regional championship.

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