Cruz Figueroa delivers a pitch against Princeton on April 1 at Faber Field in Mendota. (Reporter photo)
The Mendota Trojans got their first real test of the season and had to come from behind to post a 4-2 victory over Rockford Lutheran in a Big Northern Conference varsity baseball game on March 28 at Rockford. MHS improved to 4-0 in league games.
Mendota’s Bryson Prusator and Lutheran’s Nick Brigham were locked in a scoreless pitchers’ duel through four and a half innings before Lutheran finally broke the deadlock with two runs in the bottom of the fifth.
But the Trojans’ bats suddenly came alive in the top of the sixth when they plated four runs that decided the game. Mendota collected five straight hits in the inning, with Paxton Kennedy’s infield single driving in Sam Becker with the first run. Prusator helped his own cause with a two-run double to give Mendota a 3-2 lead. Jake Nurnberg followed with a run-scoring single to complete the comeback.
Prusator was one out away from a complete game when he was removed in favor of Kennedy, who got the final out to preserve the victory. Prusator allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out seven.
Mendota totaled seven hits off of two Lutheran hurlers, led by Becker and Cruz Figueroa with two singles apiece.
* * *
The Trojans were within one out of dropping their first game of the season, but they pulled out a dramatic 2-1 triumph over Princeton in a nonconference contest on April 1 at Faber Field in Mendota.
Neither team could dent home plate through six innings. Princeton finally broke the deadlock when it tallied an unearned run in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, Joe LaShonse reached on an error and John Buchanan walked. With two outs, sophomore Joel Escatel lined a clutch single into right-center to drive in LaShonse with the tying run. Buchanan also tried to score, but he was gunned down at home and the game went to extra innings.
Ben Bokus, who relieved Mendota starter Figueroa in the sixth, got through the top of the eighth unscathed, and then the Trojans pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the frame without the benefit of a hit. Princeton hurler Garrett Allen hit Becker, Figueroa and Prusator with pitches to load the bases with one out, then Nurnberg delivered a line drive sacrifice fly to plate the game-winner.
The Trojans (7-0) finished with four hits, including a double by Becker, while Figueroa and Bokus limited Princeton to just two safeties. Figueroa struck out 11 and Bokus fanned four.