WHEATFIELD | The host Kougars never doubted they had a chance even after falling behind 4-0 against Hanover Central Saturday in the first semifinal game of the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional.
K.V. plated two runs in the top of the seventh inning and held on for a 5-4 victory over Hanover Central to advance to Saturday night’s championship game against Andrean, which ousted Rensselaer 8-2 in the second game.
“We always feel like we’re in the game,” said K.V. senior Jake Wright, whose hard ground ball got by the third baseman, allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score. “We just had to get people on and get them in.”
Trailing 4-3, K.V. (17-13) opened the seventh with a single by Tim Hillers and a double by Zach DeFries off Hanover freshman Daniel Balich. One out later, Hanover (19-11) opted to pitch to Wright, a .563 hitter, with first base open.
“We thought we might be able to get him out front a little bit on the curve, but he hung it,” Hanover coach Doug Nelson said. “That’s a freshman out there on the mound.”
“I was just trying to make contact, move batters and move them around,” he said.
“DeFries has been doing it all year long and comes up with the big double,” K.V. coach Doug Greenlee added. “We got our (big) people coming up, and Jake put the ball in play. It got underneath the third baseman.”
K.V. starter Jack Miles settled down after allowing four runs over the first two innings. He gave up just five hits and struck out three.
“It was a gutsy effort,” Greenlee said.
“He pitched great, and he was hitting his spots,” Wright said.
It sets up a rematch of the 2010 championship game, the Niners won 5-2.
Andrean (26-4) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Rensslear (11-14) rallied for two runs in the fourth to get within 3-2.
Andrean starter Matt DeSomer averted further damage in the frame getting a double play to end the threat.
“We get a ground ball to our third baseman, he steps on third and throws to first to get us out of that inning still ahead,” Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said.
The Niners responded with four runs in the fifth, and relief pitcher Cody Haver pitched three scoreless innings to get the save.
“I got a lot more relaxed on the mound the last two innings after we got that big inning,” Haver said.
DeSomer helped his own cause with two hits and three RBIs.
Pishkur said his second line pitchers put the Niners in good shape for the title game.
“We got our No. 1 (Zac Ryan) and our closer (Mark Pishkur) for this one,” he said.