No. 9 Lockport steals one by a Hair over No. 2 Lincoln-Way North



By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

LOCKPORT, IL - Two Top 10 teams in Illinois battled at frigid, historic Ed Flink Field in Lockport on Wednesday night. The host Porters and the Phoenix were deadlocked at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth, on Opening Day in Lockport. Lockport Northern State University-bound Tyler Hair, who had led off the inning with a double, was at third base. Over at first base, Porter pinch-runner Mike Pattison was running for senior Tyler Nassar, who had walked. NIU-bound lefty Josh Mutter was on the mound with two outs for Lincoln-Way North. With pinch-hitter Gavin Lovesky at the plate, Pattison broke for second base. The “Old-Walk-off Play”, a double-steal, whatever name you want to give it, the Porters pulled it off to perfection. Mutter threw to first in an attempt to pick off Pattison and the fleet-footed Hair broke for the plate. The surprised Phoenix first baseman wheeled and wildly fired past the catcher, as the larcenous Hair stole the lead run of the ballgame. Lovesky followed with a booming RBI double, scoring Pattison and the Porters went on to a thrilling 5-4 Opening Day victory over the second-ranked Phoenix.

 The drama in the bottom of the fifth was eclipsed in the top of the seventh. Lincoln-Way North (0-2) had crept within 5-4 and had the bases juiced with one out against Heartland Community College-bound lefthander Austin Moralis. The future Huskie Mutter, was in the batter box. On a 3-2 pitch, Moralis induced Mutter to roll back to him on the mound. Moralis fired a strike to Porter catcher Ben Wishba (2-for-3, 2B), who picked up the force at the plate and fired a strike to Porter first baseman Colin Cronberg, for the old 1-2-3 double-play for the Porter winner

“Lincoln-Way North is a great cross-town rival for us. We have prepared all winter for them” Hair said, “This was a great way for us to start the 2015 season. Coach (Satunas) had prepared us for that play.To pull it off to perfection in a big game, was huge for us tonight. I played well tonight, but we all played well tonight and we came away with the big win.”

Lincoln-Way North used the longball to jump out to 3-0 lead against Lockport’s University of Illinois-bound Cole Bellair (4IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 3K). Tyler Strzelczyk went deep with a man on in the second inning and Nick Pedraza hammered  a solo shot in the third to give the Phoenix a 3-0 lead.

Lockport (1-0) rallied behind an RBI double by Josh Martinez and a clutch two-out RBI single by Hair, to pull within 3-2 after four innings. Stephen Hill’s clutch two-out, RBI single, knotted the game at 3-3.  

Moralis entered the game in the fifth and fired three outstanding innings in relief. Moralis (1-0), allowed one unearned run and one hit with six strikeouts to pick up the win for the Porters, “Lincoln-Way North is a great team and I wasn’t going to give in to them,” Moralis said. “Having the two-run lead in the top of the sixth was a real plus for me tonight. It was great that Coach (Satunas) stuck with me and I was able to induce the big 1-2-3 double-play to give us the big win.”  

No. 2 Lincoln-Way North will travel to No.1 Joliet Catholic Academy, on Thursday to face the top-ranked Hilltoppers, Arizona State-bound Liam Jenkins and Purdue-bound Kyle Ostrowski will pitch for the Phoenix. Vanderbilt-recruit Drake Fellows, is expected to pitch for JCA.

“I am proud of he way we battled right to the end,” Lincoln-Way North coach Mitch Nowicki said. “We didn’t execute a couple of plays that cost us the ball game but we did battle right to the end. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s game with No.1 JCA.”

The Porters, will take on the defending Class 3A State champion Lemont Indians, in the Southwest Suburban- South Suburban Conference Challenge at Ray Kroc Stadium in Chicago on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in Chicago.

“We wanted Michael (Pattison) to be out there on the basepaths, because he is one of our fastest guys and would make something happen for us,” Lockport coach Andy Satunas said. “For Gavin (Lovesky), just a sophomore, to get ahead in the count and barrel that ball for a big RBI double was huge for us today. A true team victory tonight. We are really proud of Stephen (Hill) for his aggressive approach at the plate. Austin Moralis, is our lefty dark horse, who attacked the strike zone and induced a Division I kid in Mutter, to hit into the game-ending double-play.”  

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