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Minooka reaches Elite Eight

Minooka defeated Marist 8-5 in the Super-Sectional Matchup at Crestwood’s (Hawkinson Ford Field). Minooka sent a message early on, taking advantage of the first of five Marist errors in the bottom of the first inning to lead 2-0. Minooka senior third baseman Ryan Voitik reached on an error and senior shortstop Cole Tyrell hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Cleanup man Tony Wellner ripped a double into the left-field corner to drive in the first run, and senior Tom Cerven singled Wellner in.

Marist got within 2-1 in the second, scoring a run on a hit batsman, balk, groundout and infield hit, and tied it in the third. Minooka senior shortstop Cole Tyrell had a chance to covert an inning-ending double play but the ball stayed down and went under his glove for an error as the runner scored.

The Marist RedHawks were left with runners on first and third, but Minooka’s sophomore ace Tony Bucciferro stepped up, striking out the No. 4 and 5 hitters. And on the second strikeout, the Marist runner, who had broken from first on the pitch, was called out because the batter interfered with Cerven’s throw to second.

That totally unconventional double play inspired the Minooka Indians’ offense to the tune of a three-run third inning, although three more Marist errors did not hurt, either. Voitik started the uprising with a single, and after that it was a matter of putting the ball in play and forcing the RedHawks to make plays.

Two runs scored when Brian Shriner’s potential inning-ending double-play grounder, a hot shot, went through the second baseman and another scored on an errant pickoff attempt.

Joe Zenawick opened the Marist fourth with a single and Bucciferro picked him off. That would become huge because the next four hitters reached on a single, walk, error and RBI walk to make it 5-3 and leave the bases loaded with one out.

But a fielder’s choice on a groundball from third baseman Voitik to catcher Cerven and another fielder’s choice on a groundball to second baseman Andrew Trepel ended the threat.

Minooka added two runs in the fifth as Cerven reached on a fielder’s choice and took second on a throwing error. With two outs, Trepel smoked an RBI double to left and Mike Smania singled to right-center field to knock in Trepel. Schwerha, who had two hits earlier, including a double, then drew a walk before the inning ended.

Marist tried one more time to get back in it in the sixth. A walk, bunt single and RBI single to open the inning made it 7-4 and left runners on first and second. Greg Gieselmann grounded the ball up the middle and this time, Tyrell made a tough play look easy and threw to first to complete a double play.

Marist’s Tyler Newsome then doubled high off the right-field fence to drive in a run and make it 7-5, but Jarka got the final out on a popup.

Minooka’s Cole Tyrell doubled in the sixth and advanced with heads-up baserunning on a short wild pitch. Wellner, who had two hits earlier, drew a walk and Cerven laid down a suicide squeeze as Tyrell scored the game’s final run.

Minooka’s senior Tom Cerven has been lights out of late as the closer. But just in case, Tyrell threw a few warmup pitches in the bullpen while Minooka finished hitting in the sixth.

He wasn’t needed as Cerven issued a two-out walk but then got Dennis Marshall on a grounder to first baseman Schwerha, who flipped to Cerven covering

Minooka (31-7) has won 14 straight and will challenge Rockford Boylan, a 2-1 winner over Cary-Grove, in Friday’s fourth quarterfinal at 7 p.m. at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva.

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