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Big Foot junior pitcher Austin Hoey struck out 15 batters and gave up only two hits Friday. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
May 24, 2013 | 07:40 PMWALWORTH - A win is a win.
Especially in the playoffs.
Big Foot baseball coach Steve Bochat stressed that concept moments after his team's 3-2 victory over visiting Brodhead Friday night in a WIAA Division II playoff opener.
Perhaps Bochat was referring to the fact that the Chiefs scored all three runs in the first two innings before the bats went silent the rest of the way. Fortunately for Big Foot, ace pitcher Austin Hoey came to the rescue. The junior left-hander stymied the Cardinal offense with an effective curveball, which he used to get out of big jams in both the fifth and sixth innings. Hoey struck out 15 batters and allowed only two hits.
In the top of the sixth, with runners on second and third, Brodhead cut the lead to 3-2 with an infield single. But Hoey struck out the next batter to close the door.
Big Foot, the No. 3 seed, improved to 14-9 overall. They will travel to second-seeded Beloit Turner (14-9) Tuesday. Bochat said Hoey will start on the mound again Tuesday.
Hoey, who improved to 6-4 overall for the season, suffered a 3-2 loss against Turner earlier this season despite allowing only two hits.
"That's too close of a game for us," Hoey said of Friday's win. "I was a little shaky, but I felt good. I thought my curve was working great, and I located it well."
Bochat said it was the sixth one-run game for his team this season.
"We just couldn't get the big hits," he said. "We had guys in scoring position. Tonight, Brodhead played decent defense and hats off to them. They're a good ball club. I'm happy we won, and hopefully we learned that you can't look past anyone."
Big Foot senior Carter Hehr, who led the Geneva Lake area with a .467 batting average this season, showed why he was recently considered for the Rock Valley Conference player of the year in the first inning. The second baseman drove home Brian Wolski with a double to give Big Foot a 2-0 lead. Zak Greco singled and eventually stole home for the first run.
Then, in the second inning, Jon Quick doubled to right field and advanced to third on an error. Nate Freytag ripped a base shot between third base and shortstop to plate Quick, making it a 3-0 game.
In the top of the fourth, Hoey allowed a run to score on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 3-1. After allowing another run in the sixth, Hoey fanned three of the final four batters he faced to seal the victory.
Hehr and Wolski led Big Foot with two hits each. Alex Landers added a base hit.
Friday night's win was the fourth in the last five games for Big Foot. It has been a roller coaster for the Chiefs this year. After opening the season 8-1, the boys lost six straight. They have bounced back nicely in the last two weeks.
"We've been hitting the ball and playing good defense," Bochat said. "Once the weather gets warm, for some reason, we start to hit the ball better. We're hoping for a really warm day Tuesday."
Bochat said Turner will have their ace pitcher, Bo Hutchison, rested for Tuesday's game. Hutchison earned second team all-RVC honors this season. After only three days rest, Bochat expects another strong outing from Hoey.
"He'll come back Tuesday against Turner," Bochat said of Hoey. "For him, three days is better than a week off. We're equal to Turner. We have to hit the ball to beat them."
This is the third straight year Big Foot has won a playoff game.
Check Wednesday's Regional News for results from this Tuesday's game against Beloit Turner. Also, visit www.facebook.com/regionalnewssportscheck for a photo album from Friday's game.