Heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader against Streator at Veterans Park in Peru, the La Salle-Peru baseball team knew how important a couple more wins against a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division foe would be.
Defense, pitching and hitting were spotty at times, but when each aspect of baseball were needed in key moments, the Cavailers made the plays and executed on timely hits to win the opener 3-2 and the second game 3-1.
The doubleheader wins combined with L-P’s win in Streator on Monday for the season series sweep.
La Salle-Peru 3, Streator 2
Timely hitting is an understatement to describe the Cavaliers’ offense in the first game.
After only connecting on one hit in the first six innings and trailing 2-1, L-P had three hits in the bottom of the seventh, including Ben Bejster’s walk-off two-RBI double to win the game.
“It was exciting to put it together and come through at the end when we needed it the most,” Bejster said on following Erik Milaicki’s double and Shawn Feagin’s single with the knockout blow. “Our sticks weren’t there all game, but we got timely hitting and made the plays in the field and got the job done.”
Streator began the scoring in the top of the second when Colton Olson recorded the Bulldogs lone hit of the game for an RBI.
L-P answered the call in the bottom of the second when catcher Max Strickland reached first on one of Streator’s four errors and courtesy runner Elliot Lewis crossed home plate on a bases-loaded passed ball.
However, the Bulldogs tacked another run on in the top of the third for a 2-1 lead after starting pitcher Brady Huebbe walked two batters and then hit two sluggers with a pitch to force in a run.
Feagin was brought in and closed out the game without allowing Streator another run even though the Bulldogs had the bases loaded in the fourth inning as well.
Feagin was awarded the win as he didn’t allow a hit in his 4 1/3 innings, while striking out two and walking one.
“We have about eight or nine guys on the pitching staff that we really have confidence in,” L-P coach Matt Glupczynski said. “At any time, we feel we can give them the ball and they will go out there and compete and give us an opportunity to win. Huebbe didn’t have it today. He wasn’t as sharp as he has been in his starts and it’s kind of next man up.
“Feagin took the ball and did a great job. That doesn’t shock me because Shawn has done that already this year. Erik Gens has done that this year. Erik Milaicki has done that this year. I can keep going on with every single guy that we have who takes the ball and throws.”
La Salle-Peru 3, Streator 1
Kyle Rothrock started on the mound in the second game and gave up one hit and one run while striking out two and walking one in 4 2/3 innings of work.
Gens came in with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth and struck out Streator cleanup hitter Andrew Szweczyk to get out of the jam.
The L-P hurler didn’t allow a hit or run in 2 1/3 innings while striking out four.
“We had an opportunity to get some kids out on the field who haven’t gotten a lot of playing time to swing the bats, but still we’d like to turn around and put the ball in play a little more often than we did today,” Streator coach Ray Phillis said. “We have to swing the bats to turn around and put some runs on the board.”
The Cavalier scoring came from Matt Jaegle in the third inning off a RBI double from Noah Lamboley and two runs in the fourth from Bejster (passed ball) and Milaicki off of a RBI single from Jaegle.
With regional right around the corner, a series sweep against a conference opponent has L-P motivated but not unprepared.
“It’s all laid out for us,” Glupczynski said. “If we do what we need to do and take care of our own business, everything is lined up for us. We control our own destiny.
“Now, we play a tough Ottawa team — that of course has the conference in sight as well and would love nothing more than to beat us — and a very tough Geneseo team. By no means are we overlooking anybody. We know exactly who we have coming up, we know exactly what it’s going to take and we have to be ready to get the job done.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.