WHEATFIELD | Survive and advance.
That’s what Hanover Central (22-5) did Wednesday in the opening game of the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional, edging Rensselaer 3-1.
“Any win in the postseason is good,” Hanover coach Doug Nelson said. “It beats the alternative, but we’re going to play a heck of a lot better to keep on going in the tournament.”
Sophomore lefty Riley Welch did his job to help the Wildcats advance, as he worked six innings of three-hit ball. He yielded just one run and struck out 10.
“Riley did a good job of mixing speeds, hitting locations,” Nelson said.
Welch said his curveball was working, and he used it for his out pitch.
“I was hitting my spots pretty well, but I missed a couple times,” he said.
Hanover advances to the semifinals on Saturday to play the winner of Knox-Calumet game, which was halted due to rain. The game will be resumed at 5:30 p.m. today in the bottom of the first inning with Knox leading 4-0.
Hanover got just four hits, but it got them back-to-back in the second and sixth innings to plate the three runs.
“We got ‘em when we had to,” Nelson said.
Evan Garthus was the catalyst, driving in all three runs, including a single in the second and a clutch 2-out, 2-strike single to drive in Dan Stum and Welch in the sixth for the eventual winning runs.
“Evan came through big,” Welch said.
Garthus said he did what the coaches told him: Lay off the curveball unless you’ve got two strikes and wait on the fastball.
“It’s do or die at that point,” he said. “You know you have to get something done, no exceptions, no excuses. You have to get the bat on the ball.”
Jay Resendez had two hits, including a double to lead the Bombers (8-18).
“They got the timely hitting, and we didn’t,” Rensselaer coach Ed Schlueter said. “We couldn’t even come close to touching that soft, little curveball he had.”