No. 4 Rummel and No. 5 Jesuit split two regular-season matchups before Friday’s Division I quarterfinal game at Kirsch Rooney Stadium but neither lived up to the action in the third meeting.
The two teams battled back and forth with the lead changing hands four times, but Rummel senior Zach Cook came through when the Raiders’ needed him most.
With the score tied in the bottom of the eighth with no one on and two outs, Cook blasted a pitch over the left-field wall for the game-winning home run. The hit gave Rummel a 7-6 victory, and Cook was at a loss for words after the biggest moment in his high school career.
“It’s just awesome,” said Cook, whose home run was his only hit. “I don’t even have words. That was just awesome, and I can’t wait to come back out tomorrow and do it again hopefully.”
Cook also started on the mound for the Raiders (26-10) and struck out 10 while allowing two runs with seven walks and a hit batter. The senior admitted to not having his best stuff but came up with some big pitches to leave the bases loaded in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
“The bottom line is just competing,” Cook said. “It’s obvious I didn’t have my best stuff and all but when it comes down to it, I just want to make pitches for my team. Bearing down and coming through for those guys is the best feeling in the world.”
Jesuit (23-13) took ta 1-0 lead in the second inning before Rummel tied it in the third and took a 4-1 advantage in the fourth. The Blue Jays chipped away at the lead with both teams scoring one in the fifth before Jesuit got within 5-4 with a two-run sixth inning.
Stephen Sepcich tied it up for Jesuit with a single in the seventh and a passed ball gave the Blue Jays their first lead since the second inning, 6-5. Lane LeBlanc answered with an RBI-single in the seventh, though, and Cook delivered the winning hit.
Game 2 will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at Kirsch Rooney and Game 3 will follow at 7 p.m. if necessary.
“You can’t make five errors. To me, that’s the number that’s sticking out on the board more than anything,” Jesuit coach Joey Latino said. “I’m very proud of the way we battled and the way we competed and Rummel (competed) too. It was a very good high school baseball game that came down to one big swing by Cook at the end, but we have to play much cleaner baseball tomorrow.”