MINOOKA — Minooka began its defense of the IESA Class 3A state baseball championship Saturday with a decisive 9-5 win over Manhattan in the semifinals of the Minooka Regional.
The Indians, who won the school's sixth state baseball title last season, jumped ahead early. After Frankie Hummel retired Manhattan in order in the top of the first, Tucker Thompson led off the bottom of the inning by reaching on an error. Ivan Dahlberg then hit a line shot over the fence in right field for a 2-0 lead. Minooka then loaded the bases as Caleb Parker reached on an error and Hummel and Cole Blazekovich walked. A single to left by Matt Medlin scored Parker for a 3-0 lead after one inning.
In the bottom of the second, Minooka scored again. Thompson led off with a single, and Dahlberg followed suit. A single to center by Parker scored Thompson for a 4-0 lead. Hummel followed with a bloop single to right, but Dahlberg was thrown out at home. Ryan Norman walked to load the bases, but Manhatten turned a double play to end the inning.
"We stress getting on base every inning and putting pressure on the other team," Minooka coach Kyle Hasler said. "We have good players up and down the lineup, so we are usually able to do that."
Hummel got in a little trouble in the third inning, allowing three runs before Dahlberg was summoned to the mound. He squelched the threat and retired all eight batters he faced in 2 2/3 innings before being removed due to pitch count so that he would be eligible to pitch in Monday's regional championship game. The Indians take on neighboring Channahon, who rallied with four runs in the seventh inning to defeat Ottawa Shepard, 8-7, in the other semifinal.
Meanwhile, Minooka kept scoring. In the third, A walk to Medlin, a double by Trey Swidowski and a walk by Thompson loaded the bases, and Dahlberg doubled to right. Medlin and Swidowski scored, but Thompson was out at home. Parker then reached on an error on a grounder to first, allowing Dahlberg to score for a 7-3 lead. Dahlberg finished the game 3 for 4 with a double, home run and four RBIs.
In the bottom of the fourth, Norman led off with a double to left and scored on a single by Medlin. The Indians capped their scoring in the fifth when Zach Monnett led off with a bunt single and went to second on an errant throw. He then scored on a double to right by Parker.
Camden Pedrusich relieved Dahlberg and finished the game for the Indians, allowing two runs in the sixth.
"Our pitchers all threw a lot of strikes today," Hasler said. "That's been our strong suit most of the season. We have a pretty deep pitching staff. Overall, we have a good group of kids that all do their jobs when we ask them to."