DOWNERS GROVE – After being shutout the previous three games, the Marmion baseball team's fortunes changed at the IHSA Class 4A Downers Grove South Regional semifinal.
Of course, Cadets left-hander Alex Troop didn't need a whole lot of help.
Troop struck out 12 Downers Grove North batters while scattering five hits in addition to his two-run single in the fourth inning as the Cadets prevailed, 2-0.
“[My] fastball felt good in the beginning. [My] curveball and changeup were working pretty well, too,” Troop said. “We've been struggling a little bit lately hitting, and we finally broke out today … we [have] to keep it up for Saturday.”
The Cadets will face host Downers Grove South in Saturday's regional final.
After being held hitless for the first three innings, the Cadets' bats awoke starting with Brian Simon's one-out single. Brady Roberts followed with an infield single after a dropped popfly by Trojan second baseman Joseph Provenzano. With Troop at the plate, a passed ball allowed Simon and Roberts to advance to second and third, setting the table for Troop to connect on the two-run single a pitch later.
Trojans starting pitcher Brett Pyburn (5-5) took the loss despite limiting the Cadets to two runs on four hits, over seven innings of work.
“[Pyburn} gave us an opportunity. He did a great job today. He's given a chance in every one of his starts. He battled. He competed,” said Trojans coach Chad Isaacson, whose team fell to 18-14. “It was a good effort. We gave ourselves a good opportunity. I was proud of our seniors on how they handled themselves for four years.”
The Trojans had an opportunity to break the scoring drought in the sixth inning after Myles Farley reached on a one-out single. Troop then walked Patrick Geraghty. After a Paul Cappetta strikeout, Brendan Shanahan singled to load the bases. Troop settled down and set down Matthew Bohanon on a three-pitch strikeout to end the threat.
Marmion's Jake Esp relieved the tiring Troop (5-0) for the seventh inning, and Esp made quick work of the Trojans, striking out two. Esp walked Ray Greco, but forced a groundout on the next at-bat to finish them off. It is Esp's first save on the year.
“I had full confidence in Jake coming in. He did a great job,” Troop said.
The Cadets are set to face Downers Grove South at 10 a.m. Saturday, and Cadets coach Dave Rakow confirmed Esp will start as Marmion seeks to win its first regional title in Class 4A.
“We did just enough to win today, but I told [the team] after the game we're going to have to clean a few things up to beat Downers Grove South on Saturday,” Rakow said.