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Local Sports

Slammers one win away from title

JOLIET – The Joliet Slammers look to make history tonight after moving to within one game of capturing their second Frontier League championship since 2011.

In Friday's third game of the best-of-five series and first one that was played at Joliet Route 66 Stadium, the Slammers scored five times with two outs in the third inning to move in front for good in a 5-3 victory over Washington which game them a 2-1 series lead.

They'll try to wrap things up in Saturday's 6:05 p.m. start, which is the final game that Joliet would host. If Washington wins to keep alive its hopes for a first league title since its franchise moved to Pennsylvania, it would host a fifth game on Monday.

In the decisive third inning, Brian Parreira (3 for 3) led things off with a single and L.J. Kalawaia drew a one-out walk before Justin Garcia collected a two-out RBI single. Ridge Hoopii-Haslam (2 for 3) drove in two more with a single, Trenton Hill singled in another and Chaz Meadows (2 for 4) completed the five-run outburst by doubling in a run.

"When we scored the five runs in the third, all of them came with two outs and that was like 90 percent of our two-out hits and it was nice to get that lead," Slammers manager Jeff Isom said. "It's nice being up 2-1 since they have a very good lineup top-to-bottom and there's no easy outs so we just have to keep pitching, but that's what we've done all year. We expected these games to be low-scoring in the playoffs, and for the most part, they have been."

"Nate Antone came in and cleaned up the mess since there were runners and second and third with two outs and a he got a big out for us," Isom said. "He had that big game against River City to get us to the elimination game in that series and has been outstanding all year long and been a go-to guy for us and tonight was no different. We wouldn't be in this situation without him and other guys as well, but he's been a big part of that."

Slammers starter Liam O'Sullivan exited with two outs in in the fifth after the Wild Things scored twice to pull to within 5-3. Nate Antone relieved him and went the next 3 1/3 innings and only allowed two hits while striking out five to pick up the win. Issac Sanchez retired the side in order in the ninth to collect the save.

"It's exciting to have the opportunity to win here, especially with a big crowd behind us," Antone said. "I just pretty much what I've been doing all season routine-wise, from the weight room to the early workout concepts. I've been doing that all year, any ways. Timely hitting has definitely been a key factor for us for a lot of the season and in the whole postseason. We definitely mesh well together in the clubhouse and all get along well. I'm fired up to see what Saturday brings, so we just need to keep the intensity where it's at."

Joliet, which dropped the series opener, has now won two games in a row to place itself just one victory away from joining its inaugural team from 2011 as Frontier League champions. The Wild Things won a league championship in 1997 while playing in Canton, Ohio, but have lost title series in 2002, when Isom managed them, and again in 2007.

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