CHICAGO | There was plenty of drama to go around in the Gardner-South Wilmington regional opener Monday.
St. Francis de Sales was able to hold on for a 15-14 victory over Seton Academy despite a seven-run seventh inning which pulled the Sting to within one run.
Seton Academy attempted a suicide squeeze to tie the game at 15, but the batter was unable to make contact and the runner was tagged out at the plate. Pioneers starter Colton Lopez then struck out the final batter to end the comeback attempt.s
"We have a lot of potential and I think we showed that here," Lopez said of a young Pioneers team. "Sometimes we need to relax and take a step back, think it over. When you relax you realize your team has your back and they're going to pick their heads up as well."
Seton Academy got on the board early with two runs in the top of the first before the Pioneers answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. The Pioneers big inning came in the fourth when they scored seven runs and were able to run Seton Academy starter Will Thomas from the game. Wesley Jones was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored for the Pioneers, including a two-RBI single in the Pioneers' seven-run fourth.
"All day it almost looked like a beach ball," Jones said. "He was throwing it right down the pipe. We're a young team and I knew at the beginning of the year that this was a learning year but we're doing better than I thought."
Seton Academy was held to two runs until the fifth inning when they scored four before adding one more run in the sixth and the seven run rally in the seventh. The Sting managed five hits on the day, but nine walks by Lopez kept the bases busy for Seton Academy.
"Credit them for hitting the ball and putting the ball in play," Seton Academy coach James Thornton said. "We had a game plan of trying to work outside. If the pitcher misses spots the ball's going to get hit. We missed spots and they hit the ball."
St. Francis will move on to face Illinois Lutheran on Wednesday at Gardner-South Wilmington.
"It was our game to win and our game to lose," Pioneers coach Tony Burmistrz said. "Our boys have been practicing very hard for the past two weeks. When they all come together, we can beat anybody."