Wed July 18, 2012
By Drake Skleba
LOCKPORT – Joliet Catholic Academy senior RHP Sam Couch may be small in stature but was a giant in the 96-degree heat on Wednesday. In the second semifinal of the Lockport Regional, Couch scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run and stymied the defending IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State champion Lincoln-Way North 5-1.
Couch, a 5-foot-8 senior kept the hard-hitting Phoenix off-balance with a dazzling display of off-speed pitches mixed in with his fastball, which had a lot of movement.
“I pitched well today against a great hitting team,” said Couch. “My fastball had a lot of movement today and I am really happy with my performance. Ryan really helped me out with the three-run homer in the first and we are really looking forward to playing West for the title tomorrow.”
With the win the Hilltoppers will play city-rival Joliet West (15-10) for the Lockport Regional championship at high noon at Ed Flink Field in Lockport. West slipped past Andrew 7-6 in the first semifinal at Lockport.
JCA (16-2) senior first baseman Ryan Peter gave Couch all the run support he would need when he crushed a three-run bomb to left in the first inning. Peter turned around a 3-2 fastball from L-W North senior LHP Mike Miller. Miller was named to the 2012 PBR All-State team this spring.
“I do what I have to do to help this team win. I had a good day at the plate,” said Peter. “Sam Couch pitched a great game for us today and led us to victory.”
Hilltopper senior DH Ira Hughes had a clutch two-out, two-run single to extend the Hilltopper lead to 5-0 in the third.
The defending champions Phoenix picked up their only run of the game in the top of the sixth on a sac-fly from St. Laurence-transfer senior 3B/RHP Kevin Smith.
“Sam Couch was outstanding for us today,” said Joliet Catholic Academy head coach Jared Voss. “Ryan Peter is a senior who is used to getting big hits for us and he sure hammered a big one for us today. Ira Hughes gave us insurance with his big two-out, two-run single in the fourth. I’m just so proud to be playing Joliet West in tomorrow’s championship game. Joliet is known as the “City of Champions” for a reason.”
Lincoln-Way North bows out after another tremendous summer at 16-3.
“Last year was a dream-come-true for us,” said Lincoln-Way North head coach Joe Skarbek. “We really wanted to win it again this year but JCA out-played us today and was the better team.
“Picking up an All-Stater in Smith has been a fine transition and we are looking forward to 2013.”