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Sports

Prep baseball: Plainfield South edges JCA to advance

Plainfield South's Justin McGuigan is safe at home with the winning run as Joliet Catholic Academy catcher Tony Fleischauer is late with the tag Tuesday in Lockport.
Plainfield South's Justin McGuigan is safe at home with the winning run as Joliet Catholic Academy catcher Tony Fleischauer is late with the tag Tuesday in Lockport.

LOCKPORT – After shutting down Joliet Catholic Academy on two singles for 61/3 innings, Plainfield South’s Griffin Lapp ran into a little trouble in the top of the seventh.

Leading, 2-0, in Tuesday’s IHSBCA Lockport Regional Championship game, Lapp would allow successive singles to Jared Cushing, Tony Fleischauer and Nick Iannatone, whose single scored Cushing, pulling the Hilltoppers to within 2-1. 

“I was a little nervous on the mound after the three successive singles,” Lapp said. “I had to refocus and get back in the zone and finish the game.”

With the tying and lead runs on base, back in his familiar closer mentality, Lapp picked up a huge strikeout for the second out and then induced his 12th ground ball of the game as South held on for a 2-1 victory at Flink Field.

The Cougars meet the winner of Thursday’s St. Charles East Regional at 12:30 p.m. Monday in a Phil Lawler Summer State Final first-round game at Naperville Central.

JCA starter Josh Ragusa went
five innings. The Cougars scored their first run on a double-play ball with the bases loaded in the third. 

In the bottom of the fourth, South’s Justin McGuigan was hit by a pitch and stole second base. With Connor Blake at the plate, McGuigan took off for third and kept running on a slow roller and beat the throw to the plate.

“I always play hard and just kept running past third and scored,” McGuigan said. “Give credit to Connor [Blake] for putting the ball in play, which allowed me to score what proved to be the game-winning run.”

“My defense today was outstanding,” Lapp added. “My curveball was my best pitch. I was really able to keep the JCA hitters off-balance. It feels great to be regional champs.” 

“Griffin pitched outstanding for us and our defense was flawless,” McGuigan added. “In 2016, we beat JCA, 2-1, to win the regional championship and would go on to win the summer state championship. Looks like everything is lining up for us again.” 

“Griffin was amazing today,” South coach Phil Bodine said. “We thought he was only going to give us two innings today, and he goes all the way. Our defense made all the plays. What a catch by Tony in the sixth.”

“I am so happy for our kids to have experienced this. This spring, we were wide-eyed at Naperville Central in the regionals and lost. That experience allowed the kids to rebound and win this regional championship. Hopefully, we can play well and take home another summer state championship.”  

For the Hilltoppers, they close out the summer with a 6-6-1 record. Numerous starters return from the 31-6 East Suburban Conference champions next spring. 

“A great 2-1 game,” JCA associate coach Mark Higgins said. “We battled to the end, and Josh Ragusa was outstanding for us, on the mound.”

SEMIFINALS

Joliet Catholic 4, Plainfield Central 0: JCA’s Zach Hise was one out away from a no-hitter before Trevor Wagnon reached on an infield hit. The Hilltoppers scored four runs in the fourth as Nate Gehrke, Danny Allen, Christian Knapczyk and Max Cullen had RBIs.

Plainfield South 8, Lemont 2: Nino Carra fired 61/3 innings of two-run baseball, in leading the Cougars past Lemont. Tony Mosher, Griffin Lapp, Zack Pawlak and Alex Lekovish all had two hits for the Cougars. Connor Blake had a big two-run single, in the three-run fourth.

GLENBARD SOUTH REGIONAL

Plainfield East 9, Hinsdale Central 7 (9 innings): Andrew Hill’s third hit was of the walk-off variety, leading the Bengals (6-2-1) past the Red Devils. Sean Rivera led the Bengal attack with three RBI. The Bengals meet Wheaton North, a 10-0 winner over Wheaton Warrenville South, at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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