PEKIN — Zach Sloan had to throw several strikes on Tuesday to get Pekin past Sigourney in the Panther baseball team’s first postseason game.
On Thursday, Sloan needed to throw just one to help the Panthers advance again.
Sloan, who pitched a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win over the Savages Tuesday, found himself in right field Thursday against IMS with his team again nursing a slim one-run lead.
With the tying run at third and no one out, Sloan took care of the next two outs by catching two-straight fly outs. On the second catch, IMS looked to send the tying run home.
Sloan had other ideas, delivering a strike as beautiful as any he threw on Tuesday. The throw from right nailed Tanner Leyden at home and helped preserve a 2-1 win that sends Pekin to the Class 1A, District 11 title game with a 14-game winning streak.
“I think feeling is a lot better. Making that throw from outfield to home is even better then shutting Sigourney out,” Sloan said. “I came to play here (Thursday) to win. I played like this was the last game I was ever going to play.”
The play helped make a winner out of senior Cade Millikin, who followed up Sloan’s three-hit shutout with a four-hit complete game of his own. Three of those four IMS hits came consecutively in the fourth following a lead-off walk, which allowed IMS to cut Pekin’s 2-0 lead in half.
“I knew I was going to get yanked if I didn’t start hitting my spots better,” Millikin said of the fourth. “I knew if I hit my spots all night, I had lot of faith in my defense to be able to make plays for me if the ball was put in play.”