Evangelical Christian School freshman Ben Specht both hit and threw the Sentinels to a postseason victory Thursday at St. John Neumann.
Specht went four innings without giving up a hit and also knocked in two runs as the Sentinels beat the Celtics 5-3 in a 3A-3 region quarterfinal game.
After falling behind early, District 3A-11 runner-up ECS came to life with four runs in the third inning.
Specht then retired 12 batters in a row from the second through fifth innings. He had command for the most part, striking out eight batters in a complete game.
“We had pitching, defense and timely hitting, and that’s what it takes,” ECS coach Jeff Kieffer said. “We made the most of our opportunities.”
The opportunities came against Tyler Luneke, who took the loss for St. John Neumann.
“Ben was able to do two good things: He had control of his breaking ball and hit his spots with his fastball,” Kieffer said, “When he does those things, he makes it tough to hit. We had a big third inning, and that’s kind of what we’ve done all season. On about the second or third time through the lineup, we start to swing the bats well.”
ECS will play Canterbury School at Tuesday at home in the regional semifinals.
“It was good to win a game like this, and bounce back like we did and not give up on ourselves,” Specht said. “I felt that my off-speed pitch was working well. I also had good location with my fastball, and I felt great out there.
St. John Neumann scored twice in the first to assume a 2-0 lead. Noah Dawson led off with being hit by a pitch and went to second on a balk and to third when Paul Costain singled down the right-field line. Cam Criss then pounded a double to the 360-foot mark in left-center field, scoring Dawson and Costain, with Criss getting thrown out at third trying to leg out a triple.
Stifled for two innings, Evangelical Christian responded with a four-run third inning.
With one out, both Mikey Marcela and Ian Evans singled. Justin Joyce forced Evans out at second, with Marcela reaching third and Joyce getting to first on a fielder’s choice. Specht then doubled to center to score Marcela and Joyce and tying it at 2-2.
Sebastian Genter followed with a single to left with Specht moving into third. Troy Hasty then singled to score Specht as Genter went to third.
The Sentinels scored a fifth run in the fourth when right fielder Garrett Yates doubled, went to third on Bill Genter’s base hit and scored on a sacrifice fly by Marcela.