By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
One is truly better than three
Times photo: Pecatonica senior Milton Kurschner secures a ball off a doubleplay toss from second baseman Devin Jeglum in the first inning of the Vikings' 2-0 win over Barneveld on Monday. With runners on first and second and one out, Jeglum caught a line drive and picked off Eagles leadoff hitter Cody Carmody at second base.
BLANCHARDVILLE - Many baseball purists love a pitcher's duel, and Monday's Barneveld and Pecatonica matchup delivered just that.

Barneveld's pitchers held the Vikings to just one hit in the game. But Lee Vlasak was better, earning the win by striking out 14 Eagles in the 2-0 ballgame.

"It really was a pitcher's duel," Pecatonica head coach Jim Strommen said. "Lee pitched a heck of a game. In high school baseball, sometimes it just comes down to who made the plays. Tonight, we did."

The Vikings (15-1, 8-1 Six Rivers East), ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 4 by the WBCA, struggled on the road in the teams' first meeting, finishing with seven errors. This time around, they were error-free, while Barneveld (12-2, 6-2), ranked No. 3 in the WBCA rankings, committed three errors.

Pecatonica capitalized, scoring both of its runs in the bottom of the fifth without a hit.

Vlasak and Milton Kurschner walked to start the fifth, and Devin Jeglum dropped a textbook sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to move the runners to second and third. Then Strommen went for it all with Bryan Daley at the plate.

"I called for a squeeze, and for some reason, (Daley) pulled the bat back because it was in the dirt," Strommen said. "Fortunately, their catcher couldn't make the play and the ball went through his legs for the run. So we got one."

Vlasak never slowed in his pursuit home and scored easily.

On the very next pitch, with Kurschner on third, Strommen called for the squeeze again.

"We went to do it again, and (Daley) let that one go," Strommen said.

This time, the catcher did not miss the pitch. Instead, he had Kurschner caught in a rundown - until the throw to third went into left field, allowing Kurschner to score easily.

"Milton said to me before that, 'Let's go. That's all you need.' But we got one more just in case. It's a lot easier to pitch with a two-run lead than a one-run lead," Vlasak said.

Vlasak was in control after that, allowing only a leadoff single in the sixth before retiring the rest of the Eagles batters.

"It's fun to play a game like this. You always want to play and beat the best. Them being our rivals just added more to it," Vlasak said.

Strommen thought the game's importance might have affected both teams' hitters.

"I'm not saying that's the reason, but these guys are all high school kids. But to beat (Barneveld) the way we did is great," he said. "We hung in there and had that one big inning we needed."

Vlasak only allowed three hitters to reach base. The first, Cody Carmody (2-for-2 with a walk), doubled to lead off the game. Two batters later, Vlasak intentionally walked Patrick Clerkin. The next batter lined sharply to Jeglum at second base. He snagged the drive and lightly flipped to Kurschner at shortstop for the double play.

"It was really just a play here and a play there," Strommen said.

Pecatonica couldn't get much offense going early. Vlasak had a leadoff walk but was caught stealing. The Vikings' only hit came in he second inning, when Harley Demler singled into shallow right center with two outs.

The Vikings stranded runners on second and third in both the third and fourth innings. The Vikings drew six walks.

Meanwhile, Vlasak remained steady on the mound.

"This was the first time they've seen me pitch in two years," Vlasak said of Barneveld. "This is my first start of the season too, and I wanted to take advantage of it as much as I could."

The senior righty struck out two hitters in both the second and third and struck out six straight from the fourth through the fifth inning.

"We had to even it out with them after losing at their place," Vlasak said.

The Vikings next travel to Black Hawk (2-10, 2-7) on Thursday.