JOLIET – Minooka senior Mitch Vogrin had just pitched nine innings when he stopped in foul territory, turned around and greeted his teammates as they came off the field.
The Indians had turned a one-out double play after an infield error and were about to bat in their half of the ninth when Vogrin made his gesture.
“Those guys got my back 100 percent,” he said. “I was just waiting for the right time, the right moment. I knew sooner or later they’d score.”
Christian Sanchez stroked a game-ending, bases-loaded hit to left-center Wednesday to give Minooka a 2-1 semifinal win over Plainfield South in the Cougars’ Class 4A regional.
Minooka (25-6) advances to Saturday’s 11 a.m. title game to play the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between Joliet West and Bradley-Bourbonnais.
“With the bases loaded, I knew the pressure was on them,” said Sanchez, who was 3 for 4. “I was looking for a pitch to hit, for a fastball. With 3-2, the odds of me getting a fastball were high. Got it elevated and tried to drive it.”
It drove home Kenny Walsh, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Jake Null then reached on a well-placed bunt and Neal Tyrell was intentionally walked.
Vogrin, an Illinois State recruit, said he threw between 115 and 120 pitches. He allowed four singles, struck out six and walked five, all free passes coming in the first four innings.
“This is the most I’ve thrown all year,’’ Vogrin said. “Actually, I think that’s the longest (game) in my life. This whole season I’ve been building up to it. I threw 90 pitches about a month ago.”
“Mitch threw a great game,” Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic said. “He got himself in a lot of trouble, but he got himself out of quite a few jams. The kid is nothing but heart and guts. He really dug deep.
“I looked at him in the seventh and the eighth and the ninth. I keep looking for him to say, ‘I think I’m done.’ He just kept saying, ‘Give me the ball.’ He’s a senior leader.”
Plainfield South’s Zach Hamaker opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first that scored Nick Mayerhofer, who walked on four pitches to start the game.
Vogrin walked the bases loaded to start the third, but recorded three straight outs – a strikeout, a force-out at home and a groundout.
“You have to think that the bases are empty,” Vogrin said. “You just got to think nothing’s on the bases, throw strikes, maybe get a groundout. That’s basically my mentality.”
Minooka pinch-hitter Cole Thompson tied it 1-1 in the sixth with an RBI double. John Vesper had reached on a dropped third strike with one out.