Posted Online: May 14, 2011, 8:24 pm

Pitching plan works to perfection for BHC baseball squad

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By Tom Johnston,

Black Hawk College baseball coach Arnie Chavera had a great plan formulated and the Braves turned it into a Region IV Sectional baseball championship Saturday afternoon at the BHC Diamond.

Actually, the Braves rode the pitching arms of Adam Karger and Keelan Prince to the nationally 4th-ranked Braves' 3-1 victory over McHenry County. Karger gutted his way through six innings of mound work and Prince came in and slammed the door the final three innings to help catapult the Braves (44-7) to their third regional appearance in Chavera's tenure.

As it turned out, the Karger-Prince combination together in one game was only Plan A and it worked out the best as the Braves needed only one game to dispatch the Scots from the double-elimination event after beating them 12-0 on Friday.

"We told Keelan that he might go into the first game if we had a lead,'' said Chavera of bringing his usual starter out of the bullpen to wrap up things. "If it looked like we were going to lose the first game, we were going to save him to start the second game.''

Prince ended up getting the call in the seventh inning of Game 1 with the Braves nursing a 3-1 lead. The lanky right-hander who prepped at Alleman came in and showed great poise in his three innings of hitless work. He struck out five, walked none and would have faced just nine batters had a third-strike on pinch-hitter Will Mack in the ninth not gotten away from catcher Trevor Kenyon. It was Prince's second save of the season, but first since mid-March on the team's Florida trip.

"It's a little different role than I'm used to,'' said Prince, who is 6-0 as a starter. "I just had to do what I had to do for the team, which was go out there and not give up any runs or hits or whatever so the team could get the `W.'''

"He was dominant,'' said Chavera of Prince.

Karger, who was really strong in his last two innings, scattered nine hits in his six innings of work and gave up just the lone run in the fourth. McHenry's 6-8-9 hitters did the damage in that frame with No. 9 hitter Chris Behler lacing an RBI double. Ironically, Karger had fanned all three of those batters the first time he faced them.

BHC's explosive offense managed just nine hits, with Alex Slaby, Kenyon and Kendall Hocker recording two base-knocks each. BHC got off to a great start with Slaby doubling off first-team All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference first-teamer Josh Galvin (5-5) and scoring on two wild pitches in the first. Kenyon doubled to lead off the second and scored on Logan Frye's RBI single. Mitch VanNatta then doubled in Frye.

But some hard-hit outs and baserunning blunders helped keep the Braves off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

However, Karger and Prince, along with stout defense, made sure the Braves' World Series dreams stayed alive. The next stop on that path is the four-team, double-elimination regional at McHenry College starting Thursday.

"When we accomplish something, it just keeps motivating us,'' said Kenyon. "One thing I love is that this team doesn't settle. ... A 3-1 win can give us a real boost.''