CHICAGO | Seton Academy baseball coach James Thornton and his staff have been working with center fielder William Thomas about when to dive and when not to dive for fly balls.
Saturday afternoon, Thomas chose to dive, and in a split second decision, the Sting center fielder made a game-saving catch to preserve a one run lead and an eventual 6-5 win over Chicago Catholic Red Conference rival St. Francis de Sales.
With two out in the bottom of the sixth, the bases loaded, and Seton Academy nursing a 6-5 lead, Pioneers leadoff hitter Michael Roggenkamp hit a shallow liner to center that looked like it would hit the ground before Thomas came in and made a highlight reel catch.
"I had to help my team," Thomas said. "This is a big game. We worked so hard for this game. It led up to this. Just trying to get my team ready for the playoffs."
Seton starter Tyrone Gaston pitched seven innings of seven hit baseball. Gaston struck out nine and walked three before he started to struggle with command in the later innings. He fought through the control issues to finish the game.
"We basically just wanted to stay focused and stay with our game plan," Gaston said. "I lost it for a few innings, but I just had to stay with my fundamentals, then I got back on. It was just a gut check, but I stayed with it."
Seton Academy (15-6, 7-1) is in line for a conference crown in the Chicago Catholic Red, with a game remaining against Leo on Monday.
"This is what it should be," Seton's Thornton said. "This is what baseball should be: one-run games. It should come down to our best against their best."
St. Francis de Sales (10-13, 7-2) was led by Roggenkamp who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs. Pioneers starter Colton Lopez pitched into the seventh, but four walks came around to score for the Sting and cost Lopez the win.
"That diving catch, that was it," Pioneers coach Tony Burmistrz said. "The center fielder won the game for them. Our boys played hard, their boys played hard, that's just the result some times. Hopefully, we can see them in the sectional."