EDGINGTON — The Sherrard High School baseball team made sure it controlled its own fate in regards to repeating the West Central Conference title, doing so with a 4-3 victory over rival Rockridge on Monday.|
The Tigers (10-10, 6-3 WCC) set up a potential WCC showdown with Orion (10-8, 3-2 WCC) a week from Thursday if the Chargers can win their way to that game.
"Conference has obviously been one of our goals all season," Sherrard coach Sean McCollum said. "We tripped ourselves up this season a couple of times, but had a lot of help."
That latest assistance came Saturday when Illini West (3-3 WCC) was swept by Monmouth-Roseville (3-5 WCC).
"It's a real tough conference," McCollum said, "but we might be able to get a conference title with three losses. It's all in our hands now, which is the nice thing. We don't have to rely on anybody helping us out."
Rockridge (5-9, 3-6 WCC) was hoping to spoil the Tigers' title talk. That wasn't in the cards, though, as the Rockets only mustered three hits off Sherrard pitcher Nathan Fay, who allowed just the two earned runs as he fanned six.
"I had trouble finding it in the first inning," Fay said. "After that I was fine. I was using my offspeed pitches and mixing it up well to keep them off balance."
That kept the Rockets struggling at the plate.
"We're playing OK," Rockridge coach Glenn Cook said. "We just can't make mistakes, and we made a couple. If we just hit the ball, it might eliminate all of it. But we're not. We're just not hitting."
Both teams scored in the first inning, and it remained tied until the fourth. The game turned when Rockridge's left and center fielders collided as they chased Nathan Kelly's fly ball that fell for a double.
Mitchell Smith, who was 2-for-4, followed with the first of his two run-scoring doubles.
"I guess I started to see the ball a lot better than I had been." Smith said. "I was seeing a lot of fastballs inside, and that's what I like to see."
Smith's second run-scoring two-bagger was in the fifth following Lucas Zurcher's RBI double. All four Sherrard runs scored on RBI doubles, starting with Shayne Mora in the first inning.
"It's about time, I guess," McCollum said. "I'm not sure that we had an RBI double yet this season until today. We're working a lot on hitting pitches from the middle and away. I thought we did a nice job taking pitches to right field, instead of trying to pull it."
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