OTTAWA — The air of anticipation around Masinelli Field for Friday afternoon's contest between Marquette Academy and Peoria Christian was palpable, and it was eventually quelled in the most business-like, efficient manner.
The Crusaders scored not in bunches, but a little in all but one of their opportunities at the plate and paired that with solid pitching to defeat the Chargers 10-1 to provide their head coach, Todd Hopkins, with the 500th victory of his illustrious, future Hall of Fame career.
Zach Dyche collected two doubles, a single and four runs batted in to lead a Cru 10-hit attack that included seven extra-base hits, while pitchers John Thompson, Shane Reynolds and Hunter McAlpine combined to allow Christian just seven hits and one unearned run as MA took its 21st win in 23 games this season. The decision also clinches a share of the Tri-County Conference championship with just two games left against Henry-Senachwine, with a win Monday there or Tuesday at home clinching the title outright.
"John threw well, Shane threw well, and Hunter came in and did his job," said Hopkins of the win. "We hit some balls hard, ones we squared up and others that they caught. There were a couple of plays that we didn't make that we should have, but we'll get better at that. We've played a lot of baseball in this last week, the kids had prom last weekend, so we'll take the weekend off to get re-energized and get ready for next week, then against some really good teams at the regional. We'll have to get geared up for that.
"To do anything like (500 wins) you have to have good players, good assistant coaches and a place that believes in you and lets you do your thing, and Marquette did that. It was a collaborative effort by everyone. ... It's nice, probably something that I'll think about 20 years from now, but I'm worried about getting us ready for the regional."
Dyche tagged a two-run single in the first, Nate Melvin hit a run-scoring triple in the second, and a Logan Komater triple, doubles by Bryce Foster and Dyche and, after a Michael Killelea single, a sacrifice fly by Connor Durdan made it 6-0 through three. Two-base hits by Kyle Cook and Luke Couch, a single by Komater and a double by Dyche provided three more runs in the fourth against PC starter Josh Grindinger.
On the bump, Thompson went the first three scoreless innings but left with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth for Reynolds, who fanned the next two to end the threat. Reynolds struck out six over 2 2/3, allowing just an unearned run before McAlpine tossed a scoreless seventh.
At Masinelli Field, Ottawa
Marquette 10, Peoria Christian 1
PEORIA CHRISTIAN (1) — Hauter lf 2-0-0-0, Cox 2b 4-0-0-0, Post c 3-0-1-0, Timm 3b 4-0-1-0, Nielson rf-1b 4-0-1-0, Tilson ss 4-0-1-0, McAfee 1b-p 2-1-1-0, Grindinger p 2-0-2-0, Matthewson rf 1-0-0-0, Whittaker dh 2-0-1-0, Bennington cf 1-0-0-0. Totals 28-1-7-0.
MARQUETTE (10) — Na. Melvin ss 4-0-1-1, Couch 2b 2-3-1-1, Komater cf 4-3-2-1, Foster 3b 4-1-1-1, Dyche c 4-0-3-4, Dougherty cr-c 0-1-0-0, Killelea 1b 3-0-1-0, Price 1b 0-0-0-0C. Durdan dh 2-0-0-1, Thompson p 0-0-0-0, Reynolds p 0-0-0-0, McAlpine p 0-0-0-0, Snook rf 3-0-0-0, Cook lf 3-2-1-0. Totals 29-10-10-9.
Peoria Christian (7-11, 4-5) 000 001 0 — 1 7 3
Marquette (21-2, 9-1) 213 301 x — 10 10 2
LOB - Peoria Christian 9, Marquette 4. 2B - Dyche 2, Couch, Foster, Cook. 3B - Na. Melvin, Komater. SF - C. Durdan. SB - Komater. HBP - Hauter (by Reynolds).
Peoria Christian ip r er h bb k
Grindinger (L) 3.2 9 6 10 1 3
McAfee 3.1 1 0 0 1 1
Thompson 3.1 0 0 6 1 1
Reynolds (W) 2.2 1 1 0 2 6
McAlpine 1.0 0 0 1 0 1