NEW LENOX | T.F. South made the plays when it needed to on defense and at the plate.
That is until the last play of the game.
What had the makings of an upset, turned into an upsetting loss for the Rebels on Wednesday.
With the bases loaded and the score tied 5-5, Lincoln-Way Central's Alex Guerra hit a routine fly ball which was caught. The throw to home, an attempt to freeze the runner at third, hit the lip in front of home plate and bounced away, allowing the winning run to score and give Lincoln-Way Central a 6-5 win over the Rebels in one semifinal of the Class 4A Lincoln-Way Central Regional.
The Knights (20-12) face Sandburg on Saturday for the regional title.
Sandburg beat Crete-Monee, 7-1, in the first semifinal.
T.F. South coach Matt Tiffy was not upset with the way his team battled and took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
"All night we made the plays," Tiffy said. "It was just that one play at the end that hurt us. I am proud of my kids and I told them so."
Kyle Hallberg went six innings, then Adam Locke started the seventh. He had some control problems, walking three and balking in a run. Cam Post's bases-loaded double tied it a 5-5.
"It was a tough one," four-year South starter Brian Seymour said. "We played our hearts out, but we made a few mistakes."
Tiffy mixed up his batting order the last week and moved Seymour from the cleanup spot to leadoff and the four-year starter had a three-hit, two-double night. Seymour also got a score in the sixth when he collided with leftfielder Tre'Sean Hall. Hall made the catch for the out, but Seymour stayed on the ground.
"He called me off, but I ran into him," Seymour said. "He clipped me behind my left ear and I was stunned a little bit."
The Rebels (17-14) scored in the first and the Knights tied it in the third. South added two in the fifth and two more in the seventh.
Crete-Monee dug itself in a hole in the first inning and could not dig itself out.
Sandburg's Sean Leland retired the first 15 hitters until Justin Kozinski led off the top of the sixth and reached on an error. Leland carried a no-hitter through six. Losing pitcher Brandon Hickey led off with a double and scored on Logan Kent's single.
Two errors and Hickey (6-4) getting behind in the count allowed the Eagles (23-8) to score four first-inning runs, two of them unearned.
"I did get a little rattled and got behind on the counts," Hickey said. "I got a little hot with the defense, but I settled down. "
Shortstop General McArthur said the Warriors (20-13) came out a little slow.
"I don't think we had that same intensity we did on Monday (a win over T.F. North)," McArthur said. "We got behind and their pitcher really had us off stride."
Leland struck out 13 at one point had struck out five in a row and six of the first nine batters he faced.
"Getting those four runs right away really helped," Leland said. "You can pitch a lot better with a four-run lead."