Touching All the Bases: Just when it looked like Lincoln-Way East was on the verge of falling victim to a surprise small-ball attack by rival Lincoln-Way Central, the Griffins’ offense exploded in a 10-8 victory over the Knights Thursday in semifinal play at the Class 4A Providence Regional.
Kevin Duffin turned momentum—and the game—around with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the third. After Central built a 6-1 lead, he belted a two-run homer. Duffin went on to bang out four hits and headed an 11-hit attack for the Griffins. He also drove in four runs as East scored nine runs in its last four at-bats.
Tommy Fuessel added two hits, including a two-run single that was the highlight of a five-run fourth-inning uprising for the Griffins.
Patch’s MVP: Kevin Duffin, junior, catcher, Lincoln-Way East. Duffin had four hits in four at-bats, including a two-run homer and a pair of doubles. He also drove in four runs and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle.
Lincoln-Way Central Leaders: David Rico (2-for-3, 2 runs, 1 RBI), Matt Filkins (2-for-5, 1 RBI), Rick Amaya (2-for-3, double, 3 RBIs), Grant Bartell (2-for-3), Kevin Mampe (2-for-3, 2 runs, 1 RBI).
Lincoln-Way East Leaders: Kevin Duffin (4-for-4, two-run homer, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs), Kevin Slawkowski (2-for-4, 2 runs, diving catch in center), Dylan Pinto (2-for-4, 2 runs), Tommy Fuessel (2-for-4, 2 RBIs).
Quotable I: “I did not see that coming at all,” Lincoln-Way East senior catcher Kevin Duffin said of Lincoln-Way Central’s small-ball attack in the early going. “The last couple of games we played them, they rarely bunted. And they really surprised me with that. And it worked.”
Quotable II: “It definitely changes the momentum of the game,” Lincoln-Way East’s Tommy Fuessel said of Kevin Duffin’s two-run homer in the bottom of the third. “It gets our team completely pumped up, and now everyone wants to hit the ball.”
Quotable III: “We put a lot of pressure on them early and generated a lot of offense,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Sean Bieterman said. “Momentum was going our way. Then, they had that one big inning. Credit to them for hitting the ball hard and settling down with their pitching as the game went along.”
Quotable IV: “We’ll be fine,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Sean Bieterman said. “We’ve got a good group of kids here. They’ve been through a lot this year. They’re a close group. This one stings. But, at the same time, so many of them are going on to play in college. So, they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”
Team Records: Lincoln-Way East is 21-12. Lincoln-Way Central finishes 17-17. The two rivals split a pair of regular season games.
What’s Next: Lincoln-Way East faces Providence at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 26, in the championship game of the Class 4A Providence Regional. Providence advanced with a 13-3 victory over Eisenhower.