INA, Ill. — As they close in on their second straight Great Rivers Athletic Conference pennant, the Wabash Valley baseball team was busy perfecting another skill set on Friday.
How to rally.
“We really needed to do that,” said WVC coach Rob Fournier after his team rallied past Rend Lake, 6-4, in the opening game of a doubleheader, followed by a 11-3 rout in the nitecap that clinched no worse than a tie for the GRAC crown with three league games left, one year after they shared the crown with Kaskaskia.
“We have been kind of sketchy in close games, so that was a huge confidence builder for us to come back.”
Trailing 4-3 entering the eighth, the 3-run rally the Warriors staged made a winner out of Zach Lewis, the 6-foot-3 freshman from Palos Heights, Ill. who struggled much of the day.
“He had a tough day but the bullpen stepped up and we got some key hits,” Fournier said.
In the eighth, Dane Giesler hit a double into the gap to score the tying run. Carlo Ocasio then legged one out for a double to score the go-ahead runs.
Meanwhile, Travis Herrin, a 6-foot-3 righthander from Lebanon, Ind., came on in relief of Lewis and hurled three scoreless innings.
Wabash Valley (38-11 overall) is 16-5 in the GRAC, good for a 3-game leader over Kaskaskia (13-8) with one 3-game series left. The Warriors play last-place Southeastern (13-27) beginning with a single home game Thursday before finishing with a doubleheader at Southeastern Friday. Either one win from WVC or one loss by Kaskaskia will give the Warriors their first outright GRAC title since 2011.
“We still haven’t played our best baseball yet,” Fournier said. “We’re getting better but we know as a team we have to grow a lot more.”
• Saturday, Wabash Valley defeated Vincennes, 7-1. Lefthander Adan Guiterrez went the distance for the Warriors. The win evened the series between the two rivals at 1-1.