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Seneca scores regional win

SENECA — Brent Bergeson made two early runs of support stand up, but only after three plays at the plate in the final four innings went Seneca’s way.

Bergeson went the distance in a 2-1 win by the fourth-seeded Fighting Irish over fifth-seeded Somonauk Monday in a Class 2A Marquette Baseball Regional play-in game. He took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out 12, but it would be hard to say Bergeson and the Irish were in complete control late.

In the top of the fourth inning, Bergeson hit one batter and walked another, but escaped damage when Mitch Westbrook was caught trying to score on a wild fourth ball issued to Nick Saltzman. In the fifth, two walks resulted only in two runners left stranded when Bergeson struck out the side.

The drama escalated in the top of the sixth. John Wathen drew a leadoff walk, stole second base as Bergeson struck out Westbrook and scored as Zac Goldsboro ended the no-hitter with a double down the left-field line. Saltzman then hit a single up the middle, but Irish center fielder Logan Pifer got the ball in to catcher Matt Houchin, who had to make a leaping catch and was then ruled to have tagged Goldsboro before he reached home plate.

“I’m not sure that I got the tag on him, but his body went into mine before he got (to the plate) it seemed like,” Houchin said. “He was probably safe.”

Bergeson gave up another single to Kevin Clukey before a strikeout got him out of the inning. Kyle Hatton then led off the seventh inning with an infield single. Hatton got to second base on a groundout and to third as Scott Thomas reached on an error, but he was thrown out trying to score on a pitch that went to the backstop.

Bergeson then induced a Wathen groundout to end the game.

“I thought it looked like an air tag. I had a pretty good angle. But the umpire was right there and he seemed pretty sure of the call,” Seneca coach Kirk Houchin said of the Goldsboro play.” “But if there was ever a kid who deserved to catch a break, it’s (Bergeson). This is only his second win, and he’s pitched like that for most of the season. Maybe at times he’s been a little more wild than he was today, but for the most part he’s thrown the ball well.”

Bergeson walked six Monday and totaled 134 pitches.

“(My arm) feels good. I’m definitely going to try for the (complete game) whenever I can,” Bergeson said. “My curveball was effective today. ... I knew about (the no-hitter), but it wasn’t like I was thinking about it when I was out there. I was just pitching.”

Seneca got to Somonauk pitcher Joe Palasiewicz quickly. Pifer led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to left-center, stole third base and came home on a Brian Bergeson sacrifice fly. Another leadoff double from Daniel Hamilton got the Irish going again in the second. Hamilton scored from third on a two-out double to right-center by Nick Kirkton.

From there, the Irish had only three hits, all singles, in three different innings.

“The three doubles right off the bat were nice to see. (Palasiewicz) has beaten some good teams, including Westmont,” coach Houchin said. “We beat a good pitcher and a good team.”

Seneca will continue the regional Wednesday versus top-seeded St. Bede at 4:30 p.m. at Masinelli Field in Ottawa.

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