It would have been a crushing defeat.
Instead, Brady Grashoff crushed an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the 13th inning Thursday, giving the Pekin baseball team a 2-1 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais in a Class 4A Normal West Regional semifinal game.
The win sent Pekin (15-8) into the regional championship game Saturday against the host Wildcats (28-6), champions of the Big 12 Conference.
Pekin’s Chase Roepenack led off the 13th against Bradley-Bourbonnais (14-15) with a single. He scampered all the way to third base on a wild pickoff throw from the pitcher that went over the first baseman’s head.
With the infield drawn in, Grashoff’s line drive brought home Roepenack and the game was over.
The Dragons had 15 hits and they drew three walks, but they produced just two runs. They had a lot of traffic on the bases.
“I don’t know how many we left on base,” said Pekin coach Larry Davis. “I have to give our guys credit. They hung in there and held together.”
The Dragons’ Nathan Righi had four hits including a pair of doubles. He almost smashed a walk-off homer in the 12th inning, but the ball hit in the middle of the outfield fence.
“I thought it was gone,” Davis said.
Roepenack had three hits including a double and he scored both Pekin runs. Evan Pogioli, Jack Kuethe and Grashoff each had a pair of hits for Pekin.
Cole Russell, who has led the Pekin offense in many games this season, went an uncharacteristic 0-for-6.
The Dragons tied the game 1-1 in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Isaac Chapman. Roepenack led off the inning with a single and he moved to second base on a fielder’s choice.
Bradley-Bourbonnais scored in the third with the help of a Pekin error.
Each team made just one error in the marathon game.
“It was a very well played game with great defensive plays by both teams,” Davis said. “(Chase) Roepenack made two great catches in right field. So it was ironic that each team scored because of an error.”
Righi pitched the first seven innings for Pekin. He allowed four hits and one run, struck out nine and walked two.
Reliever Max Jones was on the hill for the final six innings for the Dragons and he earned the victory. He gave up three hits and a walk, and he fanned six.
This was Pekin’s fourth extra-inning game of the season. The Dragons are 2-2 in those games. They’ve had an eight-inning game, two 12-inning games and Thursday’s 13-inning game.
Davis is in his 18th year as Pekin’s coach. His teams have won one regional championship, in his first year, when the Dragons were a victory away from making it to the state finals (Bradley-Bourbonnais beat them).
They’ve played in regional championship games several times.
Pekin and Normal West met earlier this season. The Dragons won 6-4 at Harry Anderson Field in their home opener.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.