BASEBALL: Third inning rally leads Reed-Custer past Manteno
BRAIDWOOD — Two-out rallies are either one of the most glorious or frustrating occurrences in baseball, depending on which side of the rally a team is on.
In Tuesday’s Interstate Eight Conference matchup between Reed-Custer and Manteno, it was the Comets who were left to celebrate.
On their home turf, the Comets plated five runs with two outs in the third inning and six total in the frame, which was more than enough run support for ace Josh Loomis in the team’s 10-1 victory.
The Comets improved to 18-4 with the win, and the Panthers fell to 16-7.
With the bases loaded and one out, Noah Curl’s RBI groundout evened the game at one. That’s when the Comets’ hit parade started.
After a Max Lepper walk loaded the bases again, Nate Smith blasted a double to score a pair. One batter later, Jarrett Goodwin drove in two more with a single. Loomis finished the rally with an RBI double, and the Comets turned a 1-0 deficit to a 6-1 lead.
“Nate came up in that big spot; he’d been struggling as of late, and when he found that gap, that lit everybody else up,” Comets coach Jake Evans said. “[Loomis] set the tone on the mound, and we felt like he was doing way too good of a job for us to not give him some run support.”
Smith busted out of his slump with another two-run double in the sixth. He and Goodwin accounted for seven of the Comets’ 10 RBIs from the bottom third of the order, a positive sign for Evans as regional play begins next week.
“That’s the kind of stuff that, when you head to the playoffs, you need those guys to step up and be heroes for you,” Evans said. “Everybody in the area knows the guys who are in the top of the order, guys with the big bats, so you need those six, seven, eight and nine guys to come up in big spots.”
Not many players in the area continuously have come up in big spots as Loomis has, as he had another fantastic outing on the mound. The senior allowed an earned run off of just two hits and two walks and was able to toss 6 1/3 innings despite a 75-pitch limit from Evans, who marveled at his aces efficiency.
“All the credit in the world goes to Josh,” Evans said. “We started him last week against Lockport [on a 50-pitch limit], hoping he could give us two innings, and he gave us four. Tonight, he was on a 75-pitch cap, and we were just hoping for four or five innings.”
And Loomis said it was a conversation with Evans before the game that allowed him to excel.
“Coach Evans told me to go out and pitch to contact because the wind was blowing in today,” Loomis said. “They wouldn’t be able to hit it far; if they did, they would just pop it up.”
The Comets’ dominant effort came a day after a 5-4 loss to the Panthers in Manteno. Loomis said it was a different attitude that had the Comets finding gaps and scoring runs on Tuesday.
“We haven’t really been hitting the ball lately, but we just got in the dugout and Caleb (LaGrange) said something, and it just clicked,” Loomis said. “We all just wanted to go out there and hit the ball.”Up Next
Both teams will be back in action on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The Comets will travel to Lisle for a conference battle, while the Panthers will host Beecher in nonconference action.