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Ehrsam pitches JCA into regional semifinal

LOCKPORT – During the spring season, right-hander Danny Ehrsam was among Joliet Catholic coach Jared Voss' first options out of the bullpen.

Now that Kyle Polaski has graduated, Ehrsam is ready to take his spot in a dynamite starting rotation headed by Nick Dalesandro and Drake Fellows.

If Ehrsam is the guy nobody talks much about, that will be fine with him.

Ehrsam threw a one-hitter Tuesday to pitch the Hilltoppers past Plainfield North 10-1 in the quarterfinals of the Lockport Regional of the Phil Lawler Classic summer tournament at Ed Flink Field.

JCA (13-0) advances to the 4:30 p.m. Wednesday semifinal against an opponent that will be determined Wednesday morning.

North (11-4) enjoyed an excellent spring and will return a majority of its regular lineup. Although top players often are missing in regular summer games because they are playing with their travel teams or are involved with other sports, when regionals roll around, they usually are there.

The Tigers had their big guns in the lineup Tuesday, but to no avail. North scored an unearned run in the third inning, driven in by Bryan VanDuser's two-out single, the Tigers' only hit. The Hilltoppers also turned two double plays, both started by Ehrsam, one when he snagged Kyle Strepek's line drive.

"Danny [Ehrsam] did a great job," Voss said. "What did he throw, about 70 pitches? This was a hitters' day, and he was throwing strikes, pounding the zone.

"We're hoping Danny will be able to step into a starter's role next spring."

Ehrsam said he has been starting this summer with his Long Shots team out of Downers Grove, where he has a 4-1 record.

"I really just tried to throw strikes and challenge the batters," said Ehrsam, who struck out four, walked one and hit two. "I was confident our defense would make the plays."

Fellows started Monday's first-round game and beat Lincoln-Way North and its standout pitcher, Liam Jenkins, 1-0 on a four-hitter. That was his first start of the summer with the Hilltoppers, and Dalesandro has not been pitching with JCA, either.

Voss said the coaching staff had not decided whether to start Dalesandro in the regional semifinal or use the committee approach with the hope of having Dalesandro pitch the championship game. The regional winner advances to Naperville next week for the state tournament.

"Drake, Nick and Danny haven't been pitching with us this summer, and we're undefeated," Voss noted. "We have other guys who have been splitting innings all summer, and they have done a very good job. They throw strikes.

"Regardless, if we play two more games in the regional, it will be a committee situation in one of them."

Dalesandro jump-started the JCA offense with an RBI single in the first inning off North starter Josh Garner, stole second and third and scored on a throwing error to provide Ehrsam with a 2-0 lead. He also was hit by pitches twice and added another single that triggered a four-run fifth inning.

"We did what we had to do against a great team," Dalesandro said. "We'll definitely be a good club next spring."

Mike Quiram, whose single drove home the only run in Monday's win over Lincoln-Way North, went 3-for-3, including a run-scoring double in the fifth. Sophomore KC Simonich chipped in with two of JCA's 10 hits, and Jack Howard singled in two runs with a shot off the right-field fence.

"I've been swinging the bat good, seeing the pitches," said Quiram, normally the third baseman but the second baseman Tuesday. "But the big thing is that we play hard defensively. Defense will win games. Danny [Ehrsam] pitched great, just like Drake did yesterday."

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