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Prep baseball: Rana leads Wildcats past Cougars in SPC action

JOLIET – Plainfield Central baseball coach John Rosner joked about the slight difference between the top teams in the Southwest Prairie Conference after watching starting pitcher Zach Rana lead his team to a 4-1 win on Wednesday over host Plainfield South.

The Wildcats scored a pair of unearned runs in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead and added an insurance run in the fifth to provide more than enough run support for the senior, Rana, who tossed a four-hitter while striking out seven en route to the complete-game win.

“Zach threw 70 strikes of his 97 pitches, over 70 percent strikes, and that’s how you win in high school baseball,” Rosner said. “Challenged with pitches in the strike zone and did a great job of mixing up his fastball, change-up and curveball, and our defense played pretty well behind him. And I was excited about how aggressive we came out defensively, on the mound and also offensively. The funny things is that we were tied for last in conference coming into the game and we win today, and now we’re two games out.

“We talk about a lot of things, but we have to come up with timely hitting. In the first, we had two strikeouts and then Jac [Lindish] doubles, we walk and then Charlie [Bischoff] comes up and got a big two-out hit, and we go up 1-0. In the third, Jac had a big RBI double, and he has the possibility of doing that every time he steps up to the plate.”

Besides the lone run in the second inning, Rana was on his game and was supported by good defense to keep the high-scoring Cougars for getting any more runs.

“The key to pitching is you just have to pound the zone, and in high school good things are going to happen,” Rana said. “This was my best outing of the year. I trust my team behind me, and that’s all that I can do. We’re all very close with 15 or 16 seniors, so a lot of us have been together through all four years, and we’ve really built a great bond, so expect a lot from one another.”

Central (14-8, 3-5) got a run in the first inning as Jac Lindish (2 for 4, two runs) scored on a two-out error. The Cougars (17-4, 6-2) evened the game on an RBI hit from Tony Mosher that scored Zach Pawlak, but then the Wildcats scored twice in the fourth as Lindish doubled home Jake Donahue and then came home on another error. The Wildcats added an insurance run in the fifth inning, and Charlie Bischoff (3 for 4) doubled in Anthony Noble.

“On Monday, we lost to this team, and we came to their place and Zach threw a gem for us, and that helped us a lot,” Bischoff said. “I like how every day no matter what happens we’re all together.”

After seeing his Cougars defeat the Wildcats, 5-1, on in Monday’s game, coach Phil Bodine was disappointed in their poor start which featured four errors, and they also didn’t perform well at the plate.

“I told the kids that we’re not good enough to give away runs,” Bodine said. “That’s the first time all year where we had two errors in one inning. We’re not the baseball team that can give any baseball team three runs. And their kid threw a heck of a game. We have to have better at-bats, and our two-strike approach was bad, and we had guys swinging like they’re trying to hit a home run, and we had to put the ball in play.”