Matt Flach powers Nazareth past Prairie Ridge, into Lawler Classic final

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With around 230 plate appearances this spring and summer, Matt Flach has played a lot of baseball in 2014.

But the rising senior from Nazareth couldn’t wait to get back on the field Wednesday evening after taking a few days off to participate in a football camp, “It’s the best,” Flach said. “Nothing I enjoy doing more.”

It sure looked that way, as Flach went 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and three RBI in the Roadrunners’ 12-1 win over Prairie Ridge at Benedictine University in Lisle.

That sends Nazareth (23-11) to the Phil Lawler Summer Classic title game for the first time since winning the 2010 title. The Roadrunners will meet the winner of the late semifinal between Joliet Catholic and Prospect in the 7 p.m. final Thursday at Benedictine.

Flach and his teammates didn’t need long to take charge on Wednesday.

The Roadrunners broke a scoreless tie with an eight-run second inning, capitalizing on three walks (two with the bases loaded), two wild pitches, a hit batter and a passed ball.

Richie Kiernicki and Grant Pomatto drew bases-loaded walks, Flach slugged a two-run double, Shane Gipson (3-for-3, 2 runs) had an RBI double and Ryan Kramer drove in a run with a single.

“We took advantage of mistakes and didn’t make errors, made the routine play and got the results we wanted,” Flach said.

He was one of several reinforcements for Nazareth who returned after missing time for the football camp. That circumstance has the Roadrunners in good shape pitching-wise headed into the final.

Donald Kelly, Carson Bartels and Kiernicki — all of whom started games in last week’s regional — will be available. “None of them have pitched this week because of football, so we have some pretty fresh arms,” Nazareth coach Lee Milano said.

Chris Campagna was the beneficiary of the Roadrunners’ big offensive night. The rising junior righty pitched a two-hitter with three walks and seven strikeouts.

He worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the top of the third with minimal damage, allowing just one run on Hunter Martin’s sacrifice fly. Nazareth center fielder Matt Wilson lost his footing initially before recovering to catch Martin’s fly ball.

“He slips, you never know — if he doesn’t get up, they bunch a couple hits together, it’s an 8-4, 8-5 ballgame,” Milano said. “It was 8-0, but to give up only one run with the bases loaded was important.”

The Roadrunners then added four more runs in the bottom of the third on Kyle Kane’s two-run single and RBI hits by Flach and Pomatto.

And now Flach and Co. are headed to the final, looking to make a little more history.

“It all stems from Coach,” Flach said. “He stresses tradition, playing for the guys before us. There’s 10, 20 players from years past that come back to watch us.”

On Wednesday, they saw a pretty good show by the Roadrunners.

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