STREATOR — For the second straight day, Streator stirred up the recipe for winning baseball against Reed-Custer, and although the games had different ingredients, the final dish tasted the same.
After scoring 12 runs in the top of the eighth inning in Monday's win over the Comets in Braidwood, the Bulldogs trailed by five before even grabbing a bat in Tuesday's Interstate Eight Conference contest. However, the hosts chipped away at the disadvantage, finally tying the game in the seventh, and then used a Joey Byers' walk-off single in the eighth to sweep the two-game series with an 8-7 victory here at the SHS Athletic Fields.
"I really felt the same thing," said Streator coach Beau Albert when asked if the confidence from a day earlier carried over even after falling behind early. "I really didn't think those five runs were going to win this ballgame, but then we wasted a couple of good scoring chances or didn't add on when we could in a few innings. We just as a team kept telling each other to just chip away at the lead, and we were able to do that.
"This is back-to-back really nice wins for us, but we have to continue to build on this moving forward."
Streator (10-6, 6-3) trailed 7-5 heading to its last at-bats, but Brett Dresbach coaxed a one-out walk before Zack Grabowski scored pinch runner Logan Colter with a ringing triple over the right fielder's head off of R-C reliever Danny Fierro. Then, after Fierro recorded the second out, his first pitch to Trevor Sember went to the backstop, allowing Grabowski to score the tying run and send it to extras.
"I had two strikeouts before, and honestly with two strikes I was just throwing my hands out there to put the bat on the ball," said Grabowski. "I saw it well coming in, and it was middle-away, so it was a perfect pitch for me."
Grabowski, who replaced Sember on the hill in the fourth and allowed just four hits, one run and struck out five in earning the win, worked out of trouble in the top of the eighth, retiring two straight batters after R-C's Caleb LaGrange led off with a double and was sacrificed to third.
"I usually like to work the outside corners, but today the umpire was giving me more on the inside so that where I was trying to stay to most of the hitters," Grabowski said. "I really didn't expect to pitch today knowing Trevor was starting, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing when I did get on the mound. I wasn't nervous and really felt more comfortable as the game went along."
In the Streator eighth, Lucas Sharisky was hit by a pitch from Cody LaGrange to start the frame and stole second with Byers at the plate. Byers then worked the count full before smacking a line-drive base hit to right, with Sharisky racing around to score the winning run and complete the comeback.
"It felt really good," Byers said of his third hit of the game. "I really just wanted to make sure I hit the ball to the right side to move the runner to third. The pitch before that was a curveball to make it a full count, and it was really close, so I was looking fastball and I got it."
Reed-Custer (8-5, 4-3) took advantage of two walks and two hit batsmen by Bulldogs starter Trevor Sember in the first, while using RBI singles from Caleb LaGrange, Josh Loomis and Jack Stellano to grab a quick 5-0 lead.
Streator got one back in the first with Peyton Phillis walking and later scoring on a wild pitch. Sharisky's RBI single scoring Mitch Vickers (three hits) in the second, a two-run double by Phillis in the fourth and Vickers' run-scoring hit in the fifth all were key for the Bulldogs in the never-say-die triumph.
At SHS Athletic Fields, Streator
Streator 8, Reed-Custer 7 (8 inn.)
R-C (7) — D. Fierro 2b/p 3-2-0-0, Grace cf 3-1-1-0, McLaughlin 3b 3-2-1-1, Ca. LaGrange dh 4-1-3-1, Beyer c 0-0-0-0, Smith lf 2-1-0-0, Loomis ss 4-0-1-2, Stellano p/rf/1b 4-0-1-1, Co. LaGrange 1b/p 3-0-0-0, A. Fierro pr 0-0-0-0, Lepper rf/2b 3-0-1-1. Totals 29-7-8-6.
STREATOR (8) — Phillis c 2-0-1-2, Sharisky 2b 4-1-1-1, Byers dh 5-1-3-1, McKinley cf 0-0-0-0, Beckendorf 3b 3-0-0-0, Gonzalez 1b 2-0-1-0, Dresbach 1b 0-0-0-0, Colter cr/pr 0-2-0-0, Grabowski lf/p 3-1-1-1, Telford ph 1-0-0-0, Vickers ss 4-2-3-1, Sember p/lf/1b 2-1-0-0, Ramon rf 2-0-0-0, Cantrell rf 1-0-0-0. Totals 29-8-10-6.
R-C (8-5, 4-3) 500 101 00 — 7 8 2
Streator (10-6, 6-3) 110 210 21 — 8 10 2
LOB — Reed-Custer 12, Streator 9. 2B —Ca. LaGrange, Vickers. 3B — Grabowski. SB —Grace, Phillis 2, Sharisky. SAC — Grace, Smith. SF — Loomis, Lepper. HBP — D. Fierro (by Sember), Smith (by Sember), Sharisky (by Co. LaGrange), Sember (by Stellano).
Reed-Custer ip r er h bb k
Stellano 4.1 5 4 7 4 6
D. Fierro 2.1 2 2 2 4 1
Co. LaGrange (L) 0.1 1 1 1 0 0
Sember 3.1 6 6 4 6 2
Grabowski (W) 4.2 1 1 4 2 5
None out when winning run scored.