OTTAWA — The Peru Minor League team got on the scoreboard first and didn’t stop changing the numbers until they enforced a 14-4 10-run rule victory over Streator in five innings in Game 2 of the District 20 Tournament championship series.
Behind Alec Tomsha’s solid pitching, 11 hits and solid defense, Peru is the District 20 champions.
Peru defeated Streator 15-6 in Game 1 to win the three game series in two contests.
“This is one of the hardest working group of kids I’ve had the privilege of coaching,” said Peru coach Mike Argubright. “I managed this group (two years ago) and we won the District 20 Tournament. Our goal was to get back here and it’s basically the same exact group.
“They put the ball in play, they fielded the ball and they put every bit of energy that they had into playing and it shows. They take this stuff serious. They’re one great group of kids. I’m really happy with their patience. They didn’t go after pitches. They were basically waiting for strikes. That was our game plan. When they found their pitch, they drove it.”
Peru scored one run in the bottom of the first when lead-off hitter Geno Dinges hit a triple and was brought in by Stuart McGunnigal.
The real damage came in the second as Peru sent 11 different hitters to the plate and scored seven runs to take an 8-0 lead over Streator.
In the second inning, Dinges, Brandon Lamps, McGunnigal, Renbir Saini, Geno Argubright, Max Moreno and Connor O’Flanagan scored runs.
“That’s a very good team. They’re very fundamental,” Streator coach Doug Gassman said. “We are too, but we just didn’t have it the last two days. Peru is a great team. They came out early on us. We tried to fight back and had a few mistakes here and there. That’s what good teams do. They made routine plays and they threw strikes.
“I’m still proud of my boys. It’s their first time playing districts. We won the sub-district and made it here. We’ll see them again in the years to come. In the sub-district tournament, our pitching carried us and we were able to hit the ball. We put the ball in play all the time here too, but the difference was they made plays and we didn’t.”
Streator scored two runs in the top of the third to trim the deficit to 8-2, but Peru answered with Tomsha and O’Flanagan scoring runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 10-2 lead.
After a scoreless fourth, Streator scored two runs in the top of the fifth. Once again, Peru retaliated and scored four to enforce the 14-4 10-run rule victory.
Brennan Hirst’s double actually brought in two runs to end the game, but the officials took one away to make it an exact 10-run ball game.
Tomsha recorded the win for Peru after allowing seven hits and four runs, while striking out two and walking three in 4 2/3 innings pitched.
“Alec is our go-to for strikes. He is definitely one of our top two pitchers,” Argubright said. “I can always count on him to throw strikes. He almost got through the whole game because he was putting the ball right in the mitt. He’s been doing it all year long and it carried over to All-Stars.
“He was pegged for this game all along because I knew he wouldn’t give up a lot of walks. He didn’t have any (until the fifth inning). He was solid. We tell him, ‘Put the ball over the plate and let our defense do the work.’ He did that.”
Now it’s time for the sub-states tournament.
Peru is in Pool B and will begin action at 8 p.m, Friday against District 13 at Warren Giles Riverside Complex in Moline.
“We are very excited to be where we are right now with no loses,” Argubright said. “I don’t know much about the state tournament except for we’re going to have the exact same game plan that we did in Peru (sub-district tournament) and Ottawa (Minor League championship series). We’re going to have the same lineup, the same pitching strategies and the same hitting strategies. I’m not changing anything.”
Peru was 4-0 in the District 20 American Sub-District and won two games against Streator in the championship series to go 6-0.
In the process, Peru outscored its opponents 88-20.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.