WHITING | With just one swing of the bat, Bishop Noll’s Matt Sandoval ended what had become a marathon game featuring sweltering heat and missed offensive opportunities for the Warriors.
Sandoval cracked an RBI single up the middle, plating Kody Alayon to give the Warriors a 5-4 win against Wheeler in nine innings.
Alayon reached second base on a fly ball that none of three nearby Wheeler defenders fielded. Cody Moskovsky then walked before Sandoval’s hit won the game.
“I told coach, ‘Give me one more shot at him and I’ll get it,’” Sandoval said of facing Wheeler pitcher Matt Ittersagen again. “I was running, saw it go through, rounded first and saw them throw to home. It was great.”
The Warriors (21-6) had a chance to win the game in the seventh inning. Jaylen Yarbrough and Danny Oseguera both scored runs to tie the game 4-4, but Sandoval struck out with the bases loaded to end Noll’s chance at winning the game.
“Late in the game we had a lot of opportunities to come through,” Bishop Noll coach Paul Wirtz said. “I thought we had it a couple innings earlier but it didn’t work out. These were two really good teams going head-to-head, so what can you do?”
Wheeler was up 4-1 at one point after back-to-back two-run third and fourth innings, as Jesse Kellar pitched 5 1/3 strong innings for the Bearcats (21-7).
In the first semifinal game, Whiting jumped all over Lake Station late, defeating the Eagles 13-3 in five innings.
Whiting (18-10) had live bats in nearly every inning, putting up multiple runs in all but a scoreless third frame. Leadoff hitter Justin Jendreas set the tone on more than one occasion, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI single in the fifth inning that turned out to be the game-winner.
“It’s between being a leadoff hitter and being really solid at shortstop,” Whiting coach Kevin Lenz said of Jendreas. “We moved Justin over from second to short (this season) and we didn’t miss a beat. He’s stepped up as a hitter.”
Kris Suleski, Chris Szoztek and Robert Fazekas each drove in one run for the Eagles (10-19).