PLAINFIELD – An old adage in baseball is that hitting can tend to slump sometimes, but defense and pitching never slump.
Minooka’s baseball team learned that first-hand Wednesday.
The Indians were held without a hit for the first six innings of Southwest Prairie play against Plainfield East, but they rode the arm of sophomore Trevor Machek (six two-hit innings) and error-free defense to a 4-0 win.
Machek struck out five, walked two and hit two batters, but left with a 1-0 lead and moved to 3-0 on the young season.
“We’ve gotten good pitching both days,” said Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic, who was referring to Josh Jimenez’s solid outing in Tuesday’s series opener against the Bengals. “Today, Trevor pitched really well. We hit the ball really well yesterday. I think sometimes when you have a day where you paste everything pretty good, you get a little overconfident and you come up with the wrong approach. We were talking about how we may win this game without having a hit in it.”
For six innings, it certainly appeared that way. Minooka (7-3 overall, 2-0 SPC) scratched out a run in the second off of Plainfield East starter Matt Kramer (1-2). Nick White drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on a wild pitch. With the wind howling straight in and both Kramer and Machek dealing on the mound, it looked like that may stand up.
“When we got our run, I definitely felt better because you feel relieved as a pitcher when your team scores a run like that,” said Machek, whose season ERA of 0.60 coming into the game will continue to go down after six scoreless innings Wednesday. “You don’t have as much pressure on you. I just went out there and tried to get the win for my team, tried to keep my team in it as long as possible.”
Machek held up his end of the bargain, only allowing a double to Eric Fetchko in the fourth and a single to Kramer in the sixth. But on the other side of the coin, Kramer headed into the seventh inning trailing 1-0, but also carrying a no-hitter for the Bengals (3-6, 0-2).
He had walked three and struck out three, allowing only an unearned run, going into the seventh.
“It was not brought up because we were losing the game,” Plainfield East coach Adam O’Reel said. “I don’t think anyone had that in mind. I know Matt didn’t. He’s got the talent, and we’ve seen it for the last year. That was him finally showing up and stepping up. It’s good to see that as a junior when we still have some time with him. We just didn’t pick him up at the plate. We couldn’t get anything going for him.”
Sean Macko broke the no-hit bid up with a single on the first pitch of the seventh, and the Indians tacked on from there. The big blow was a two-run Kevin Ruff double.
“We got the guys together before the last inning and told them that they’re pressing,” Petrovic said. “All we have to do is work up the middle, opposite field. When we did that, all of a sudden we started hitting the ball a lot better.”
Minooka will go for the three-game sweep at home Thursday at 4:30 p.m.