MINOOKA – Minooka has beaten ace Jake Godfrey and Providence once already this young baseball season.
Now it appears the Indians will be asked to do it again.
Minooka scored 10 runs in the second inning en route to an 11-0 victory Thursday over Joliet Central in the opening round of the WJOL/Don Ladas Memorial Tournament. That vaults the Indians (3-1) into Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. semifinal at Providence against the Celtics, who may have Godfrey and his 94-mph heater ready to go.
“Godfrey’s a good buddy of mine,” Minooka shortstop and leadoff man Neal Tyrell said. “We played together multiple summers. It will be fun facing him again.”
Tyrell is difficult to keep off the bases, and once he is on first or second, his tendency is to not stay there long. He is nothing if not smart and aggressive.
“Neal not only is a great player but a great person, too,” Indians coach Jeff Petrovic said. “He is fun to watch. He is a position player who is dominant. He gets us going. He’s a true leader.”
Minooka lost the coin toss and thus was the visitor. Tyrell started the game with a double to left-center field, added two singles, drove in a run and stole two bases.
One of his hits came in the second inning when sophomore Brandon Rossiter singled home two runs in his first varsity at-bat, Christian Sanchez doubled in a run, winning pitcher Joe Butler knocked in two with his second hit of the inning and Tyler Paulsen belted a two-run home run.
“Brandon [Rossiter] is solid defensively so we may have him up with the varsity other times when Joe [Butler] pitches,” Petrovic said. “Joe is our regular third baseman.”
Petrovic said his lineup has been a series of “moving parts, especially when Joe pitches.” But one constant is Tyrell at the top.
Petrovic cleared his bench when the Indians got their big lead, and doubles by Gavin Pfieffer and Jon Vesper produced the 11th run in the fourth inning. Meanwhile, Mitch Malone and Trevor Maly each worked in relief and they combined with Butler on a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk.
“It was really cold,” Petrovic said. “Overall, I was impressed with the way we were able to play with the weather as bad as it was. Our pitchers walked one guy with frozen hands and our defense made plays when they did put the ball in play.”
“We finally got some hits together and we played good defense,” Tyrell said. “We have a lot of potential, we just have to find the right pieces. We pitch well and play defense.”
Juan Cisneros, who did a creditable job in relief for Central (0-3), had the Steelmen’s hit, a third-inning single.
“Juan came in and did a good job, but it was the same story,” Central coach Tony Juarez said. “The second inning, we had to catch the ball and we didn’t, especially balls in the air to the outfield.
“We’re still learning what our pitchers can do as far as hitting spots and how we can help them defensively. We’re not there yet. And offensively, we’re not good enough. We’re not going to win if we wait for people to walk us. We have to make contact.”
The Steelmen will face Plainfield Central at 9 a.m. Saturday at Providence in a consolation semifinal.