It was the Pacelli seniors’ last shot at Brookstone, an important item for the No. 1-ranked Vikings even though the Region 2-A-B title could be secured with a victory on Dimel Field.
“This my last Brookstone-Pacelli encounter. This is the last one for a lot of us,” said senior Stuart Wilkerson, Pacelli’s starting pitcher in Tuesday’s game. “We want to make it count, because this is also for the sub-region.”
Wilkerson and two other Viking pitchers held Brookstone off just enough to take a 6-4 victory to win Region 2-A-B and clinch home field in the sub-region doubleheader next weekend.
The Pacelli pitchers and Brookstone’s Neal Amos had to persevere through changing weather that turned a bright and shiny early spring afternoon into rainstorms. The game was delayed twice due to the conditions, a lightning delay in the bottom of the second and a rain delay in the fourth.
“That was tough on Stewie going to pitch, sit down, pitch, sit down,” said Pacelli’s coach Ken Miller. “But we had enough pitching depth that we could go three deep. I really like the way we’re playing. Hopefully we’re beginning to peak. This is the time of the year for it, rather than peaking in March.”
Brookstone’s Vince Massey, while disappointed in losing, felt his team was more competitive this time around. “They’re just a good team. I think we played well. I don’t think you can take anything away from our guys. I felt we competed.”
The Cougars (14-5) touched Wilkerson for all four of their runs and five hits including a solo home run by Milton McCluskey in the third inning and a two-run shot by Garret Hix in the fifth.
“They hit my stuff. I give credit to them,” Wilkerson said. “I pitched as good as I could and they hit me and that’s just how that went.”
But Wilkerson got the first big blow. After sitting the Cougars down in order in the top of the first, he led off with a home run over the center-field fence. That got Pacelli the early lead, and the Vikings, through the rain delays and the Cougars’ hitting, never relinquished the advantage.
Pacelli went up 2-0 in the second inning with Cooper Martin singling before the lightning delay. When play resumed, Michael O’Neal hit a perfect hit-and-run single through second base to move Martin to third. He later scored on Wil Wells’ RBI groundout.
McCluskey’s home run leading off the Brookstone third inning cut the Pacelli lead to 2-1. But the Vikings would get the winning runs on their half of the inning when catcher Matthew Rossi hit a three-run home run off Amos, bringing in Wilkerson and Charles Rossi.
Hix’s home run and Johnny Carter’s RBI groundout pulled Brookstone to within 5-4, but Pacelli played small ball — a Wells walk, a Joe Baron sacrifice bunt and a Wilkerson two-out, hustle double — to add another run.
In the meantime, O’Neal had come on in relief to keep the Cougars scoreless in the top of the sixth. Charles Rossi set Brookstone down in order in the seventh to earn a save.
Brookstone has clinched second-place in the sub-region.
Tuesday at Pacelli
Brookstone 001 030 0 —4 6 1
Pacelli 113 001 x —6 8 0
WP— Stuart Wilkerson (NA) . LP—Neal Amos (NA) . Hitting leaders—Pacelli: Wilkerson, 2-3, HR, 2B 2R; M. Rossi 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Martin 2-3 R; O’Neal 2-3. Brookstone: Howard 2-3, R; Hix 1-3, HR, R; M. McCluskey 1-3,HR, 2 R. Records— Pacelli (15-2, 9-0 Region 2-A-B). Brookstone 14-5, 5-2 Region 2-A-B. Next— Pacelli hosts Kendrick, noon Saturday. Brookstone hosts Marion County, 4:15 Thursday.