GARY | The bottom of the sixth inning went from bad, to worse to an absolute nightmare for Westville in Thursday’s game against E.C. Central.
The Blackhawks and Cardinals were locked into a 2-2 tie when E.C. Central’s bats suddenly came to life. A six-run frame gave the Cardinals the cushion they needed to defeat Westville 8-2 in a RailCats High School Challenge game at U.S. Steel Yard.
“The game was actually going pretty quick for me,” E.C. Central coach Jorge Ontiveros said. “In the sixth inning, our bats came alive, and we did pretty well.”
In that frame, Carlos Flores and Reyes Maldonado each doubled. Maldonado plated two runs in an inning where the Cardinals (3-4-1) collected six hits.
“Usually, we’re like that,” Maldonado said. “We get continuous hits. We’ve been hitting the ball well lately. The team just kept hitting, and it was like a snowball effect. I was just thinking ‘base hit, base hit,’ and thankfully I got a big, two-run double.”
Maldonado also pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Cardinals, striking out seven and giving up an earned run. He pitched himself out of tough jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings to limit the damage the Blackhawks inflicted.
“My team supported me really good,” he said. “I was just trying to throw strikes and get the ball over the plate. Thankfully, they were able to make plays.”
Maldonado said he had never pitched at U.S. Steel Yard, though the Cardinals are a mainstay on the High School Challenge schedule every season.
“It was amazing,” he said. “That’s one of my dreams -- to pitch on one of the bigger fields. I said a quick prayer before I started on the mound. I was just asking God to bless me on the field and let me play well.”
Flores finished 2-for-3 and knocked in two runs in the third inning for the Cardinals.
Westville’s Chase Kourtis went 1-for-3 with three stolen bases and a run scored, while Riley Cuma doubled and finished 2-for-3.