LAPORTE | Even though the sun was shining, the weather wreaked havoc on the Lake Central vs. Portage regional semifinal game Saturday.
Portage ace Kevin Jones, who threw nearly 140 pitches Wednesday to win the sectional, tossed another 102 on Saturday before being chased in the fifth inning. Lake Central's plan to raise his pitch count on only three days rest worked.
Lake Central scored six of its nine runs against Jones and advanced to play in the Class 4A LaPorte Regional title game with a 9-4 win.
"Obviously he didn't have the same pop on his fast ball or bite on his curve ball, but I'm proud of the way he kept fighting," Portage coach Tim Pirowski said. "He came out and battled and wanted the ball in that situation, I'm just proud of the way he wanted to get out there."
The LaPorte Sectional games were postponed during the week so the sectional title game wasn't played until Wednesday. Lake Central, meanwhile, won the Munster Sectional on Monday night.
While Portage stuck with ace Jones, Lake Central has "six pitchers that are the same," coach Jeff Sandor said, so L.C. started Blake Bosold, a lefty who hadn't pitched against Portage in the regular season.
"We came in wanting to use two to three arms," Sandor said. "We knew they'd run Jones out there, so we wanted a lefty arm that could fill the zone.
"That's a heck of a right-handed pitcher we faced and a gutsy effort to run back after the sectional and throw another 100 pitches."
Portage gave Jones a 3-0 lead in the second inning, before Lake Central scored five runs to jump ahead 5-3. Lake Central (23-8) had four straight hits and seven total in the second.
"We were trying to take the counts deeper and make him pitch more," Lake Central junior Brenden Seren said. "When they went up on us, you could feel everyone was like, 'We're down this isn't good.' To win you have to think like you're winning, you can't be down on yourself."
Of Lake Central's 15 hits, 14 were singles with the only double off the bat of Seren.
Bosold was replaced after the second inning by Antonio Majstorov, who took the win in five innings of relief. Majstorov allowed one run as Portage loaded the bases in the seventh.
Portage (19-14) had runners on second and third with one out in the third and fifth innings, and left 11 on base.
"If we could have done something in those times we had second and third and less than two out, I think it would have been a different ballgame," Pirowski said. "Give their pitcher credit, he pitched them out of the jams."