If you’re going to be outside in the cold for a couple of hours, you might as well make good use of your time.
The Pekin baseball team did that Monday.
The Dragons surprised host Dunlap 1-0 in a Mid-Illini Conference opener, beating the team ranked No. 2 in the Peoria Journal Star’s large-school area power rankings. Pekin is No. 9 in the 13-school rankings.
Bryson Swift played a huge role in Pekin’s win.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior knocked in the game’s lone run with an RBI single in the second inning and he threw six innings of shutout ball until Nathan Righi came on in the seventh and earned a save.
Swift allowed six hits, fanned eight and walked two. The last number was crucial.
“Walks can be a problem for Bryson. When he throws strikes, like he did (Monday), he pitches well,” said Pekin coach Larry Davis.
Righi gave up a two-out infield single to put the tying run on base, but losing pitcher Charlie Mangieri grounded out to Righi to end the game.
Swift’s two-out ground single between first and second base brought home Michael Ellwanger from second with the eventual winning run. Ellwanger, who got on base with a walk and stole second, just beat the throw to the plate from the rightfielder.
“It was a bang-bang play at the plate,” Davis said.
Pekin (4-1, 1-0) had a runner on second base in each of the first three innings, but couldn’t get another run.
Dunlap’s (7-2, 0-1) best chance to score came early in the game when Righi, playing third base, threw out a runner at the plate after collecting a ground ball.
“There were runners on first and third with one out,” Davis said. “Even though the batter hit the ball hard, Nathan made the right play throwing the ball home (to catcher Braden Lavin). I don’t think we would have turned a double play.”
Magieri fanned six and walked two in going the distance. Pekin had only three hits against him.
The teams made just three errors (two by Pekin) despite the cold.
NEXT: Dunlap at Pekin, 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at Harry Anderson Field (Mid-Illini game; rain date is Thursday).