Matthias Dietz generally is a starting pitcher for Sandburg.
But with Lincoln-Way East mounting a rally in the seventh inning Tuesday, Dietz was called on to make his first relief appearance of the season.
The 6-4 right-hander delivered, retiring three hitters in a row to preserve a 4-3 Sandburg victory in a SouthWest Suburban Blue battle.
“I’d much rather start, but I like to pitch, no matter what,” Dietz said. “I just tried to stay calm and stay focused.”
Starter Sean Leland took a 4-1 lead into the seventh. However, he hit Tyler Krause with an 0-and-2 pitch to lead off the inning and Brandon Skopick reached on an error. Evan Sandmann then lined a 2-and-2 slider into the left-center field gap for a double, cutting the lead to 4-2.
With runners on second and third base and no outs, Dietz entered the game. He was able to get Aaron Perch and Aaron Donald to ground out, which allowed Skopick to score and cut the deficit to 4-3.
With the speedy Sandmann at third base, Dietz struck out Kenichi Haynie to end the game.
“It’s never easy,” Sandburg coach Jim Morsovillo said. “Matthias came in and did the job. He pitched a lot in relief for us last year, but he’s more mature now and he made his pitches today.”
The Eagles (13-4, 5-0) broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning. Ben Gresla led off with a walk against starter Brett Watson and scored on a double to deep center field by Dan Santiago for a 2-1 advantage. A fielder’s choice by Jim Roche scored Santiago for a 3-1 spread.
Sandburg tacked on another run in the sixth, compliments of an East error, its fifth of the game, that made it 4-1.
With the way Leland was cruising along, the lead appeared safe.
To East’s credit, though, they made things interesting.
“You never underestimate a team that won’t quit,” East coach Paul Babcock said. “No matter what the situation, this team has guts and will come after you.”
Roche’s sac fly in the third, after East (8-9, 2-3) committed two errors, gave the Eagles a 1-0 advantage.
After wasting a scoring opportunity in the fourth, the Griffins had better success against Leland in the fifth. Skopick reached on a fielder’s choice, Sandmann singled and Perch laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. A fielder’s choice by Donald allowed Skopick to score and tied the game 1-1.
Leland allowed five hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out five over six-plus innings. His counterpart, Watson, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two.