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Prep baseball: Cougars save their best for last

PLAINFIELD – The Plainfield South baseball team spent most of the first six innings doing things atypical of a program that is known for its consistency.

And largely because of that, the Cougars found themselves down two runs with the potential to be down considerably more in the top half of the seventh as their opponent, Plainfield East, loaded the bases with nobody out and the heart of the Bengal lineup coming to bat.

Those actions seemed to shock the Cougars back into reality, as they turned in three consecutive strong defensive plays to keep the Bengals from extending the lead and then plated three runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning to pull off a stunning 5-4 victory.

“It was ugly for six innings,” Plainfield South coach Phil Bodine said. “And we have to clean that up. We can’t give away that many freebies. We’re not a good enough team, and we’re just lucky that we got off it with a win. We needed a win.”

In the Cougars’ half of the seventh, Tony Mosher kept the momentum rolling by mashing a curveball over the fence to trim the lead to 4-3. Ryan Pawlak kept the line moving by pushing down a beautiful bunt to reach base, and Johnnie Hernandez laced a single to put the potential winning run on the basepaths.

The Bengals got the first out of the inning via a strikeout and appeared on the verge of getting the second out moments later, but an error allowed Justin McGuigan to reach and allowed the tying run to come around to score.

Griffin Lapp was plunked by a pitch to load the bases, still with one out. Connor Blake then hit a ball to the middle of the infield, and Plainfield East tried to turn the double play to get out of the mess with the score tied, but Blake was able to leg it out to prevent the double play and secure the unlikely victory for the Cougars.

“It was pretty intense, especially those last few innings,” Mosher said. “We had to keep on rolling. The top of the inning was just huge getting out of there, and we just gained confidence.”

Plainfield East scored solitary runs in the second and fourth on an RBI groundout from Dylan Sullivan in the second and a squeeze bunt from Andrew Hill in the fourth. A pair of errors played a big part in the two runs the Bengals plated in the fifth, but it seemed all game long Plainfield East missed chances to extend the lead even further.

Plainfield South’s run scoring before the seventh-inning surge came courtesy of a two-run homer from Pawlak in the second.