07/28/2018 7:34 PM -
-By Sam Oppenheim
The Joliet Generals needed to win both games today against the fourth-place Bloomington Bobcats. They went out and did just that. With their backs against the wall, the Generals defeated the Bobcats 7-5 and then 16-6 in game two.
In game one, Bloomington jumped out in front after scoring two runs in the first. That lead remained intact until the bottom of the third, when Joliet went on the attack.
After two leadoff walks and Jack Kraus getting hit by a pitch, the Generals had the bases loaded. After a wild pitch brought in Bryce Cross, Jeremiah Lebron hit a bloop double to bring in Joe Scaffidi. Then, another wild pitch let Kraus come in to score.
The Bobcats answered in the top of fourth with three runs thanks in part to Joliet committing two errors. But once again, the Generals had an answer.
After a leadoff triple by Jack Lombardi, Cross hit a shot through the left side to score him from third. The next batter, Scaffidi, walked. Two wild pitches, a passed ball and a walk later, Cross and Scaffidi both scored. Kraus was later brought in on a RBI single by Lebron.
“When we got down in the middle innings, I reiterated how we have to go pitch-by-pitch,” said Joliet manager Joe Hernandez.
But the performance at the plate in game one was overshadowed by Ryan Czajowski’s gem on the mound. The right hander went all seven innings, striking out nine batters while only allowing one earned run. After his 122nd pitch ended in the final out of the game, Czajowski was fired up on the mound.
“My mindset was to go one pitch at a time,” said Czajowski. “I felt so good just to win and hopefully make a playoff run.”
Hernandez acknowledged how important Czajowski has been this season.
“He’s been the ace,” said Hernandez. “He was probably throwing as hard in the seventh inning as the first.”
Mike Santarelli got the ball in game two, which was a runaway victory for the Generals. Despite Bloomington taking a lead in the top of the first again, Joliet struck back with force.
The Generals sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning and scored seven runs. In the second, Joliet batted around again scoring five runs, including a three-run home run by Brett Stratinsky. The Generals held strong the rest of the way and won handily by a score of 16-6 after five innings.
“Any day you can get 16 runs as a team is a good day,” said Joliet infielder Ranko Stevanovic. “These two games were must-win for us so we made it a point to put the bat on the ball.”
The Generals will look to keep that offensive momentum rolling into tomorrow’s contests against the Southland Vikings
“I’m pretty much going to keep the lineup the same,” said Hernandez. “We’re just going to have come out from the first pitch.”
Joliet has to win two games tomorrow against the Vikings, a team that they split games Thursday and Friday with. If Joliet loses the first game, they will not play the second contest. Both games will be streamed on the Joliet Generals YouTube channel, with the first game beginning at 1pm.