Season-ending losses rarely are palatable, but the one Prairie Ridge endured Saturday may stick with the Wolves for some time.
They led the entire game and held a four-run advantage with only six outs needed to put away Antioch for the Class 3A Chicago Lake View Sectional championship at Kerry Wood Cubs Field.
“I would have bet everything I own [that] we’d have won that game,” Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro said.
Second baseman Roth Mizell expressed similar thoughts.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” Mizell said. “That game was easily ours. It just didn’t go our way.”
A couple of errors, a couple of high-chop ground balls in just the right place and then Austin Delgado’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh gave the Sequoits an 8-7 victory.
Antioch (20-13) will play Nazareth Academy at 4 p.m. Monday in the North Central College Supersectional in Naperville.
Prairie Ridge (21-14) held a 7-3 lead in the sixth when the two high-chop balls helped lead to three runs. David Pecoraro had pitched 22/3 innings of solid relief, and closer Ben Harris came in with one out in the sixth.
“Right when Ben took the mound, I told our other infielders, ‘The game’s over, we got this,’ ” Mizell said. “That’s baseball. It doesn’t do what you want every single time.”
The Wolves got an RBI each from Mizell, Harris, Alex Powers, Scott Stetz, Hunter Morlock and Michael Patterson. They led, 7-6, heading into the bottom of the seventh when Antioch put runners on first and second. With two outs, Delgado delivered the game-winner off an 0-2 pitch. The hit one-hopped the fence in right-center field.
“I’m still in shock, and I can’t get the last two innings out of my head,” Glen Pecoraro said. “We outhit them, 12-7. We squared the ball up all day long. It’s frustrating. I thought we were the better team, but it’s not the better team that wins, it’s the team that plays the best that day. We didn’t get outs when we needed to get outs.”
Prairie Ridge bounced back from a 12-22 season, its lowest win total in school history, to tie for third place in the Fox Valley Conference and win a regional title.
“It’s incredibly special, going from last year having one of the worst records [in school history] to this year having extreme success,” Mizell said. “One of our goals is to play the best baseball at the end of the season, and we really did that.”