Knowing he was going to pitch against Maple Woods in the second game of the South Central District Championship on Saturday at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, Delgado’s Evan Hilleman watched the Monarchs take batting practice earlier in the day.
When it came time to pitch, Hilleman struck out 14 and allowed just four hits in a 10-2 victory shortened by the eight-run lead rule.
“I thought they would have trouble hitting fastballs up but that they hit breaking balls real well,” Hilleman said. “After I established my fastball, my breaking ball just came along.”
He shut out the Monarchs (33-26) in six of the seven innings he pitched. Maple Woods got to him in the fifth for both of its runs. Right fielder Andrew Curry and center fielder Conrad McMahon started the inning with back-to-back doubles, and left fielder Clayton Risch laster scored when he stole third base and Delgado catcher Spencer Miller’s throw went into left field.
“He’s been good for us all year,” coach Joe Scheuermannn said. “And, we swung the bats real well and took the pressure of him with the big five-run second inning.”
The teams will play at 3 p.m. Sunday.
A win would give Delgado (35-14) its third consecutive South Central title and send it to its third NJCAA World Series appearance in a row.
A loss would require a third game between the teams at 1 p.m. Monday.
In winning Saturday’s nightcap after eliminating East Oklahoma earlier Saturday, the Dolphins took a commanding 7-0 lead by the fourth inning. They scored five runs in the second on six hits.
Designated hitter JP LaGreco (3-for-4), third baseman Owen Magee (2-for-4, homer) and left fielder Robbie Podorsky (2-for-5) each drove in two runs.
The Dolphins scored five runs with two outs in the top of the eighth with two out in winning the first game, 10-6, to eliminate Eastern Oklahoma (32-32).
Center fielder Daniel Lahare, who went 4-for-5 with two triples and three runs, gave Delgado a 6-5 lead with a single that brought in Christian Volion. After Owen Magee walked, loading the bases, LaGreco hit a bases-clearing double. Catcher Spencer Miller then singled in LaGreco.
“(Pitcher Zach Fowler) got me on the first pitch, a curve,” Lahare said. “But he threw me a fastball, and I was able to hit it real good.”
Delgado had blown a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning, with an error by Lahare a factor. With the score 4-1, Eastern Oklahoma shortstop Hunter Wilson hit a fly ball to center field that carried well. Lahare turned right and ran back to make a play on the ball, then turned left to make the catch but dropped it. Two runs scored on the play.
The Mountaineers tied the score at 4 on center fielder Tristan Clarke’s sacrifice fly, which brought home first baseman Brennan Dooly.
Eastern Oklahoma took a 5-4 lead in the seventh when Clarke scored on third baseman Brett Akins’ two-out double. However, Delgado answered in the bottom of the inning. Lahare led off with his second triple, and third baseman Owen Magee followed with a sacrifice fly.
Lahare’s error was one of three by Delgado.
“We didn’t play very good defense,” Scheuermann said. “We missed a couple of fly balls and routine ground balls. The four-run inning, they had one hit. It was ugly, but we won.”