JOLIET – Senior left-hander Charlie Wright is the No. 2 pitcher on the Lemont staff.
He also is an ace. It's just that when Jake Latz is your teammate, being labeled No. 2 is an honor.
Wright overcame a shaky start Friday and threw a complete-game five-hitter to beat Metamora 8-3 in the semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament at Silver Cross Field.
"Nervous, excitement, adrenaline, it was probably all of them," Wright said of the ominous beginning. He entered with a 0.77 ERA in 54 2/3 innings.
The first three Metamora batters singled, tripled and walked but Wright (8-1) surived the half-inning with Lemont trailing only 2-0.
The Indians' hitters responded in the bottom of the first as six of the first seven hit safely. Mike Papierski, who later lofted a two-run home down the right-field line, drilled a two-run double to tie it 2-2. Jake Terrazas singled home the go-ahead run and Eric Tucker's single made it 4-2.
"I like hitting after all those guys get hits in front of me," Terrazas said. "That's fun."
"Charlie [Wright] struggled at the beginning, but we fielded it well and hit it well," Lemont coach Brian Storako said. "We got the momentum back in the bottom of the first. That was big."
"We knew our guys were going to come back strong after we got behind," Wright said. "I do get flustered. I get a little upset sometime, but they got us back in front."
Papierski, the catcher, said Metamora was sitting on Wright's fastball, "so we started working backwards, and that got everything back in line. It wasn't long before all three pitches were working."
Metamora opened the second inning with a double and single to put runners on first and third with nobody out. However, Wright struck out the next two hitters and then picked the runner off first to end the inning.
He struck out the side in the third, giving him five conseucitive punchouts. "The string of strikeouts helped me out a lot," he said.
Before the game ended, Wright picked another runner off first and allowed only an unearned run.
"I've always had that move," Wright said of the pickoffs.
"He even fooled me a couple of times," Terrazas, the first baseman, said with a laugh.
Lemont extended its lead ot 6-2 in the fifth. Jamie Glista delivered a two-run single. Papierski's homer in the sixth, a high fly ball that wrapped around the right-field foul pole, followed Ryan Folliard's infield single.
"Off the bat, I wasn't sure it was going out," Papierski said. "The wind helped it out. It got up in the air and just kept going."
Wright threw 102 pitches. He allowed two walks in addition to the five hits and struck out seven.
He may have been overshadowed because of having Latz as a teammate. But in his final Lemont start, he made sure the Indians would play for a state championship.
Wayne King and his staff at Joliet Junior College are thrilled Wright will pitch there next season.