Nazareth left-hander Peter Minella pitched a two-hitter Wednesday to end Oak Park-River Forest’s summer league season.
Still, there was much OPRF coach Chris Ledbetter was pleased about although the No. 2-seeded Huskies didn’t make it to the regional final. Third-seeded Nazareth advanced to Thursday’s Fenwick Regional final at 2 p.m. Thursday with a 3-1 victory over OPRF in the semifinals at the Priory. The Roadrunners will play neighborhood rival and top seeded Lyons, which beat Leyden 7-0 in the other semifinal.
“It was a productive (summer),” Ledbetter said. “We saw most of our innings out of the four through seven pitchers on our staff. With our 1-2-3, we didn’t see them as much. Ryan Chancellor was someone who worked his way up. He went 5-0 during the summer.”
The Huskies (17-3) managed only a pair of doubles off Minella, who was one of Nazareth’s top returning starters from the spring season.
Minella worked both sides of the plate and struck out seven batters while walking three. He threw 102 pitches in the complete game, 66 for strikes. OPRF’s only run off Minella came in the bottom of the fifth when Keith Rogalla led off with a double to deep centerfield. It was the first hit of the game off Minella, who earlier walked two batters only to see both of them caught stealing off Minella’s move to first base.
Pinch-runner Cam Smart, running for Rogalla, scored on a groundout later in the fifth. Ian Luttrell had the other hit, a double to right field, off Minella in the sixth.
Rogalla was OPRF’s starting third baseman in the spring, but has made the move to first base as the successor to Michigan-bound standout NIck Kowalczuk.
“(Minella) had a weird arm slot. It was lower than three-quarters,” Rogalla said. “He hid the ball well. You couldn’t see the ball come out of his hand and he stayed away from us. He was a solid left-hander.”
Minella received all the support he would need with a run each in the second and third innings. Matt Wilson (3-for-4) scored the game’s first run when he scored from second on Brandon Bossard’s single. Pinch-runner Mike Greene came across in the third on Bossard’s second RBI single.
Minella, a Western Springs resident, is looking forward to see some of his friends on the opposite side of the field against Lyons Thursday.
“A lot of my friends are on LT,” Minella said. “I’ve always wanted to play LT. We always bicker about who will be better.”
Nazareth (25-12-1) had nine hits off four different OPRF pitchers. Starter Sam Cottingham-Beard took the loss, but left in the top of the third after throwing 54 pitches when he re-injured his right knee after throwing one pitch to designated hitter Drew Dunker.
Cottingham-Beard sprained his knee earlier in the summer and did not play in previous summer league playoff games.
The winner of the regional final advances to the Phil Lawler State summer tournament starting Monday in Lisle or Naperville.