By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

More Minooka 2-out magic, Cook blanks Moline for 4A Minooka Regional championship


Last updated 6/7/2021 at 11:14pm

Great pitching. Solid defense. Clutch hitting.

The three basic principles of Minooka Indians baseball under the tutelage of their manager Jeff Petrovic.

Minooka (19-10) senior starting right-hander Jake Cook improved to 4-1 on the mound, allowing just two hits in his 5 1/3 scoreless innings of work against Moline (20-16) on Monday.

Fellow senior right-hander Josh Davis fired 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to combine with Cook for a 5-0, three-hit shutout of Moline to become 2021 Class 4A Minooka Regional champions.

The Class 4A Regional championship is the first for the Indians since 2016 and the ninth in the 17-year coaching career of Petrovic.

More Minooka 2-out magic.

With the game scoreless in the bottom of the second, Indian senior catcher Hunter Ryan and left fielder Joey Gould walked.

With two out, Davis got the Indians two-out, run-scoring party started with the usual clutch, two-out, two-run single. Indians courtesy runner, sophomore Mikey Murphy, and Gould scored for a 2-0 lead.

Davis scored on a great hustle play by Indians senior Brendan Valdez. Valdez hit a slow tapper to the Moline third baseman and with great hustle, forced an errant throw and Davis scored for a 3-0 Indians lead.

"We're playing great baseball right now. We are getting hot at the right time," Davis said. "I wanted to come through for us in the clutch and I feel I did that today. On the mound, I threw strikes and my defense was outstanding behind me. When one has an outstanding defense that he know will make the plays for him, it becomes much easier to throw strikes.

"Against Joliet West on Wednesday, we have to come out fast and I believe we will get the job done."

Cook knocked down the first 11 Maroon hitters he faced before giving up a two-out single in the top of the fourth. Moline picked up its second hit off Cook with a two-out double in the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the fourth with two outs, Indian senior Mitch Thomas doubled home senior Nick Gehrke and junior Ivan Dahlberg, both who walked, to extend the Indians lead to 5-0. More 2-out Minooka magic.

The fleet-footed Thomas was gunned down at third base, trying to extend his double into a triple, for the final out of the inning.

"It feels amazing to be regional champs," Thomas said. "We worked hard all season for this and it feels great. We never fail to strike late in the inning. Great outing for Jake (Cook). Jake has given us performances like this all season. Josh Davis did a great job in relief.

"We all just never give up in an inning and that is why we are so successful scoring runs after two outs."

After Cook picked up his fourth punch-out to open the sixth inning, Petrovic went to Davis from the bullpen.

With his 73 pitches on Monday, if the Indians are fortunate to advance to Friday's Class 4A sectional championship game, Cook, with three-days rest would be able to start for the Indians in the Sweet 16 game.

"It feels great to be regional champs," Cook said. "We felt we would make a great post-season run but it sure feels good, when you actually do it. It was tough to get hot right away after sitting through the hour rain and lightning delay. I was able to come out strong and fire 5 1/3 shutout innings. We beat Joliet West earlier in the year and we have our great freshman Ryan Anderson ready to go on the mound. We are confident we will advance."

In an All-Southwest Prairie Conference Class 4A sectional semifinal, the SPC East champions from Joliet West (19-10) will face the sub-sectional's top-seeded Indians on Wednesday in Minooka.

Minooka defeated Joliet West 6-5 in Joliet on April 24, 6-5.

"I am really proud of our guys for not winning but how they played the game," Petrovic said. "We got outstanding pitching, great defense and although we didn't have many hits, we had clutch two-out, run-scoring hits.

"We have had different people for us everyday coming through in the clutch. That is a credit to the kids for how they never quit at the plate. Grind out every at bat. Jake has great composure and was dialed in right from the beginning today. Jake has been pitching so well for us and gave us another great performance. We are playing so well and why not continue this great tournament run on Wednesday?"


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