LANSING | Robert Blissitt Jr. could have been driving a bulldozer on Monday.
The Thornwood senior shortstop was a one-man wrecking crew on Monday as he led the No. 21 Thunderbirds to 12-9 win over No. 12 T.F. South in a Class 4 Richards Regional upset.
Blissitt drove in seven runs with a grand slam and a bases-loaded double that just missed clearing the fence.
"This was a big win for us because nobody takes us seriously, but we came in thinking we could win," Blissitt said. "We haven't been too successful and we haven't had too many leads."
Blissitt's slam keyed a seven-run second inning. His double added three insurance runs, which proved to be the difference.
"The home run, I got ahead in the count and knew he had to come in with a strike," Blissitt said. "I hit it pretty good.
"The double, I wanted to just put the ball in play and help my team."
He also helped with his glove, grabbing a ball that short-hopped him and forced a runner at second.
"Robert was the difference today," Thornwood coach Mike Triumph said. "He got the big hits when we needed them."
Blissitt still shopping for a college at which to play, and triumphly said Monday's performance should help.
"He's got the skills and the last few weeks, Robert has really picked up his game," Triumph said. "He can play at the next level."
The Thunderbirds (4-22) play at No. 5 seed Lincoln-Way East at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Rebels finished at 17-14.
Sophomore Travis Roberson went 6 2/3 innings, leaving after giving up a grand slam to Elijah Shepard, which made the score 12-9.
"I didn't overpower anyone, but I just felt comfortable out there," Roberson said. "Having a 7-run lead off the start really relaxed me and we played good in the field today.
"The toughest part was pitching with a lead because we don't have too many of those."
T.F. South battled back as it scored a run in each of the second and third innings, then added three in the fifth. Thornwood added a run in the fourth and fifth respectively.
The Rebels were without No. 1 starter Justin Pasko, who was thrown out of Saturday's game against Illiana Christian. Illinois High School Association rules state if a player is thrown out of a game, he must sit out the next contest.
"We would have like to have Justin pitch, but rules are the rules," T.F. South coach Matt Tiffy said.
While Tiffy said the two errors cost his teams as just eight of Thornwood's 12 runs were earned, he was proud the way his team battled back.
"That is what T.F. South teams do," Tiffy said. "We did dig ourselves in a little hole, but we battled back, little-by-little. Our kids will always play hard and not give up."