Grayslake Central shortstop Ryan Fontana wanted folks to know he stands 5-foot-7. And he's certainly closing on that height soon. No matter that he doesn't look like he would hurt a flea, he put a hurt on a pitched baseball in the third inning of the IHSA sectional baseball game on Wednesday afternoon.
It easily cleared the left field wall for a two-run homer. Central (29-9) opened up a 10-0 lead over visiting Lakes and then held on for dear life. The Rams dodged a three-run homer and a grand slam and ended Lakes season 11-7.
"I just wanted to hit the ball hard,'' Fontana said. "And maybe get a sacrifice fly. And then I got that one out."
Central coach Troy Whalen noted Fontana waited his turn to jump into the starting shortstop job.
"He's been in our travel program,'' Whalen said. "He's from a great line of shortstops here."
Fontana had the game's first RBI. It was an ugly first inning as the Rams used three walks, two hit batters and the Fontana single to put up four runs.
Winning pitcher Christian Edwards survived his own rocky first inning and then settled in to toss shutout ball until the fifth inning.
"I just couldn't locate in the first,'' Edwards said. "And then (Jay) Kleinofen made a great diving catch. I just settled in after that."
By the fourth inning this game looked out of reach. That was the frame in which Nick Hosford, Jon Gurchak, Kristian Meehan, Sean Boban and Fontana all singled to push the lead to 10-0. All the Rams needed to end the game was three more outs in the top of the fifth.
Edwards almost did that. Chris Hoffman hit a three-run homer ending any thoughts of a five-inning game.
"It was one bad pitch,'' Edwards said. "I wasn't worried as we have good pitching depth on this team."
Whalen had no complaints about his winning pitcher.
"What a stud,'' Whalen said. "This is the biggest game he's pitched."
Gurchak drove in another run in the home half of the fifth. And then the game turned interesting when Mike Bartlett homered with the bags filled with Eagles. Lakes was within four runs.
Reliever Mike Wiggins shut the door in the seventh and the Rams had clinched a berth in the sectional title game come Saturday.
"We will be ready to play,'' Fontana said.
The next time the Rams play they will be in search of win No. 30.
"Winning 29 games is pretty impressive,'' Edwards said. "We thought we had the potential to do it but to really do it is awesome.''
Central will await the winner of Thursday's game between St. Viator and Vernon Hills.
"Everybody is dangerous at this point of the season,'' Whalen said. "You just have to play well."
Fontana led the Rams with three hits and four RBIs. Both Meehan and Boban singled and doubled. Gurchak helped with a pair of singles. Hosford reached base three times and added a single.