Big picture: Thornton Fractional bragging rights belong to the South.
TF South outslugged TF North late into the night to win Friday’s RailCats High School Challenge game 17-8 at the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary. The dominant win comes just days after the Rebels beat the Meteors 11-1 Monday.
“That’s how we do it,” TF South senior catcher Jason Urdiales said postgame Friday. “You come out here onto a field like this against your rival and you battle.”
Urdiales — who had three singles, four RBIs, one walk, one run and one steal — said he’d been dreaming of playing at the home of the Gary SouthShore RailCats since his freshman year and that Friday’s game lived up to expectations.
TF North rallied from a 2-0 hole with three runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-2 lead, but couldn’t keep up with TF South’s high-powered offense. The Rebels plated a total of 10 runs between the third and fourth innings and then five more in the sixth put an end to any hope of a close finish.
Turning point: Down four, 12-8, in the bottom of the fifth, the Meteors loaded the bases with a chance to climb back only to have TF South pitcher Roberto Fernandez work out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning.
TF South player of the game: Urdiales — He did a little bit of everything offensively and made few mistakes behind the plate. This game mattered to him.
TF North player of the game: Senior utility player Shaquan Bowens — While gave up eight runs over 3.1 innings, Bowens slapped a bases-clearing double in the second inning and got on base three times.
Quote: “We’re fortunate to have a rival,” TF South head coach Matt Tiffy said. “I tell these kids, if you can’t get up for your rival, you don’t have a pulse. These guys got up for them today.”
Beyond the box score: Portage defeated Clark 5-0 in the opening game of Friday’s Challenge doubleheader. The Indians did all their damage in the first two frames with four runs in the first inning and another in the second.
The 17th annual Challenge consists of 20 games, featuring 37 teams, and runs through April 27.
Up next: Thornton (0-1) at TF North (2-6), 10 a.m. Saturday; Tinley Park (5-2) at TF South (4-1-1), 4:30 p.m. Monday