KEWANEE — It was getting late, it was getting dark and it was getting time to go home.
Caleb Dickens stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning Thursday evening at Prather Field, the Princeton Tigers tied with the Kewanee Boilermakers. He sent home everybody in blue happy, lacing a walk-off, game-winning single down the left-field line to give the Tigers a 5-4 win.
“I tried to stay mellow up there and act subtle and just tried to stay relax and make a good stroke on the ball,” said Dickens, who fouled off two pitches before connecting on a 3-2 pitch for the game-winner. “The umpires said they weren’t going to play after the bottom of the (10th), so it was like the pressure was on Kewanee, not really on us. I kept that in my head, relaxed and tried to make contact.”
Senior second baseman J.J. Vaccaro singled and took second on a passed ball before racing home on Dickens’ game-winner.
“It was really an important win, because Kewanee had only lost one game, and I think that was to Sherrard, so they’re one of the better teams in the conference. So it was a big win,” Dickens said.
“We needed that win. Kewanee was a tough team and we knew that going in. That was our chance to step it up,” PHS coach Tim Taylor said.
Sophomore Jake Reinhardt was the winning pitcher, hurling two scoreless innings in relief. Starting pitcher Isaiah Taylor toiled eight innings, scattering four hits while striking out eight and allowing four runs, only one of which was earned.
The Tigers (4-6, 1-2) trailed 4-0 after 4 1/2 innings with the Boilers scoring one run on a throwing error in the second and three more in the fourth.
Princeton got one run back in the fifth and two more in the sixth, still trailing 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Senior Logan Wilde got a Tiger rally started with a single to right. He stole second and took third on an errant throw. Sophomore Levi Bates laid down a squeeze bunt to first base to bring home Wilde with the tying run, Bates reaching safely for a hit.
“Levi has a nice bunt. I have all the confidence in the world Levi making that play and Logan has the attitude to go home,” Tim Taylor said. “It was perfect situation for us to put that on.”
Dickens finished the day 3-4, robbed of a second-inning hit with a diving catch from the outfielder.
“Seems like there’s been a lot of diving catches. We haven’t really got a break,” Dickens said. “I just tried to let that one go and keep trying to make contact. Hopefully, I’d get things to drop. We all made pretty good contact.”
Tiger tales: The Tigers will head out at 7:45 a.m Saturday for a crossover doubleheader vs. Riverdale.
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