07/10/2018 9:26 PM -
-By Sam Oppenheim
Versatility is a desirable skill.
When Joliet Generals manager Joe Hernandez realized that his scheduled starting pitcher Carter Lawler was not going to arrive before first pitch, he had to find another option. Hernandez had only one other pitcher, Logan DeWulf, who started just two days ago against the Hounds. It would have to be up to a position player to fill that one inning. Hernandez settled on catcher Freddie March, who admitted he had not pitched since his sophomore year of high school.
March pitched the first inning for the Generals, and allowed two runs after a two-run blast by Jake Plastiak. Even so, he was able to strike out the final out of the inning on a curveball. Lawler entered the game in the second.
“After the home run in the first inning things settled down,” said Hernandez.
Meanwhile, the early innings represented some success followed by struggles. Joliet got runners to second and third in the first two innings, but were left stranded both times.
“We’ve been having opportunities to score runs and we left runners on the second and third in the first two innings,” said Hernandez.
In the third, the Generals finally broke through Oilmen starter George Sherman, scoring three runs on two NWI errors in the frame. The next inning, Joliet extended their lead on a two-RBI single by Jack Kraus.
“We had a lot more patience,” said Hernandez. “Even today, we had a sacrifice bunt to move two runners over and the next batter singled to bring them in.”
On the mound, Lawler was efficient. Through four innings of work, he had given up just one hit on only 44 pitches. With their starter looking brilliant on the mound and their offense finally driving in runs, it seemed like Joliet would eventually run away with the game. That was up until the sixth inning.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Lawler gave up a bases-clearing double to Brendan Butler. He was brought in on a RBI single by the next batter. In the seventh, Lawler was pulled after giving two singles to start the inning. Those two runners would end up scoring, but Mike Santarelli stopped the bleeding from there.
Santarelli, who had not pitched in a recorded outing since June, pitched the final three innings, allowing no hits and recording a win in relief.
“We just had to get some outs to get things rolling,” said Santarelli. “I knew the guys were going to hit because they did so all day.”
The offense came to rescue in the seventh, scoring two runs, before Joe Scaffidi’s sac fly to center scored Josh Nowak to tie the game at eight. And then in the eighth, a fielder’s choice by Bryce Cross brought in Brendan Krob to score. Krob ended up representing the winning run.
Regardless of how they won, the Generals have won five in a row since losing ten of 11 games.
“We’re playing hot,” said Santarelli. "When guys are hitting its fun to be around and we got to do everything when we're fighting for a playoff spot."
Joliet returns to action tomorrow against the first-place DuPage County Hounds. First pitch is set for 5pm at Wayne King Field.