BOLINGBROOK – Whew.
In the Southwest Suburban Blue Conference opener for both schools Tuesday, Bolingbrook took a 7-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning. Behind senior right-hander Jake Anderson, the Raiders appeared headed for an easy victory.
Not so fast.
After Anderson walked Porters shortstop Steve Salvino (2 for 2) to lead off the seventh, Raiders coach Scott Thyer went to his bullpen, and the Porters’ bats awoke.
An RBI double from Nick Strysik (2 for 4) pulled Lockport within 7-3. Brent McDowell (2 for 4, four RBIs), who had launched a two-run homer off Anderson in the fourth, singled home two more runs to make it a 7-5 game.
With one out, Thyer tried closer Dylan Murillo. Porters pinch-hitter Jimmy Heintz greeted Murillo with an RBI single, making it 7-6. With the tying run at second and the lead run at first, Murillo bore down.
“It was really nerve-racking out there,” Murillo said. “I had to get outs.”
Indeed. Murillo got DJ Studniarz to pop out to shortstop Kellen Quigley. When the popup off the bat of Steve Davis came down in the glove of Raiders first baseman Jordan Jackson, Murillo had his fourth save and Bolingbrook (9-5, 1-0) had a huge win.
“I was so happy to see Davis’ popup end up in Jordan’s glove. What a great victory,” Murillo added.
Bolingbrook center fielder Frank Dixon opened the Raiders’ first with a blast over the left-field fence for a 1-0 lead.
“I didn’t think I got it all,” Dixon said. “It felt great to see it go out. It was my first home run of the season.”
Bolingbrook exploded for six runs in the third inning to open a 7-0 lead. Four of the Raiders’ runs came after two outs. Two-out RBI singles from Malik Binns and Cam Falk (2 for 3) extended the lead to 5-0. Catcher Dylan Crouse crushed a two-run double to conclude the scoring in the big third inning.
“Coach (Thayer) has been teaching us a new approach at the plate,” Crouse said. “It worked well for us and I really crushed the ball on the two-run double.”
Meanwhile, Anderson was dealing. Other than the McDowell two-run homer, he was in complete control.
“Jake (Anderson) was outstanding,” Crouse added.
In the Porters’ fifth, Lockport loaded the bases with two outs. Anderson blew a fastball by catcher Ryne Davis (2 for 3, double) for his fifth strikeout. In his six innings, Anderson (4-0) allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
“I pitched well,” Anderson said. “I made just one mistake. My defense made the plays behind me and we picked up a big win.”
“Every time Jake (Anderson) has taken the mound for us, he has given us a chance to win the game,” Thayer said. “He kept a very good Lockport team off balance. We really hit well with two outs today and I think Frank’s leadoff home run gave us a lot of energy early. Dylan (Murillo) continues to do the job as our closer.”
Lockport (6-7-1) received 31/3 shutout innings in relief from Ryan Gabriel.
“It was a great comeback by us in the seventh,” McDowell said,” I saw the ball very well today. I was able to really barrel up on the big homer in the fourth.”
The two teams will meet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Ed Flink Field in Lockport.
“I am very proud of the way the kids came back,” Lockport coach Andy Satunas said. “It showed great fortitude and gives us a lift going into Thursday’s game. I am also very proud of the effort Ryan Gabriel gave us.”