Eddie Scaccia is in a role reversal this postseason, a current position in which he feels quite comfortable.
Scaccia pitched in relief during Oswego’s playoff run last year to a sectional final. He provided a struckout pitcher out of the bullpen.
He still has a great arm, but now he’s the ace of Oswego’s starting rotation. Scaccia was the conference Pitcher of the Year when his team won the Southwest Prairie West title. He’s the point man for what the Panthers hope will be another extended playoff run.
“It feels good,” Scaccia said. “I like the transition, I like to control the game, it’s up to me. Last year we had a great run. I’m trying to help my team out and hopefully I’ll do even better.”
Scaccia is certainly off to a good start.
He struck out eight in a one-hit complete game, going the distance for the first time this season. Scaccia also received plenty of support, as third-seeded Oswego beat 14th-seeded West Aurora 7-0 in Wednesday’s Class 4A Neuqua Valley Regional semifinal.
Scaccia walked four, the last two with two outs in the seventh, but rallied for a game-ending groundout to finish an impressive 108-pitch outing.
“I don’t know if he was as smart as he’s been in the past, but when he gets going he’s tough to hit, and he showed that today,” Oswego coach Joe Giarrante said. “He commanded a lot of pitches, made some deep counts, but overall he threw his butt. He put us in a good position.”
Chase Gerwig went 3 for 3 with three singles and scored two runs, and Trey Hernandez went 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs for Oswego (24-11), which scored four runs on wild pitches and two via sacrifice fly advancing to face the winner of Neuqua Valley-Romeoville in Saturday’s regional final.
Scaccia (4-1) had a slow start to the season as he recovered from a shoulder injury.
He pitched in relief in his first two appearances in April, but quickly established himself as Oswego’s No. 1 pick. Scaccia threw a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts in a start against Plainfield North, and the right-hander gave notice. again on Wednesday that he can lean on Oswego’s biggest games in the future.
“It’s like Joey [Cecola] it was for us last year. He didn’t get off to a fast start, but he settled in and hopefully improved his pitch count and is stronger going forward,” Giarrante said. “He’s going to have to be that guy, throw 100 pitches, especially when things get a little deeper in the playoffs.
On a howling windy afternoon, Scaccia allowed a one-out single to West Aurora star shortstop Ryan Niedzwiedz in the first inning. But Scaccia retired the next six batters and allowed just two more runners until the seventh.
Only one runner from West Aurora reached second base, on back-to-back walks in the seventh. Unlike his previous start, when Scaccia ran out of gas in the sixth against Yorkville, this time he finished what he started.
“That game was definitely on my mind,” Scaccia said. “I definitely didn’t feel like I had my best stuff early on, but I found it when I came out. I lost it a little bit at the end, but I got through it.”
“I started the season slow, I picked it up halfway through, a tough start last week, but it was good to come here and help my team the best I could.”
West Aurora (12-19), which was swept by Oswego during the conference season, only saw Scaccia in relief during that series.
But Blackhawks coach John Reeves knew full well what his team was up against on Wednesday. West Aurora has been sat out six times this season, four of those times in SPC West games.
“He’s good and they’re a good team,” Reeves said. “Sometimes we have trouble scoring runs anyway. Once you’ve got four or five runs with that guy on the mound, it’s a pretty big lead to get back.”
Gerwig singled to lead off Oswego’s first, moved to second on a missed interception throw, and scored on Hernandez’s single. The Panthers added three runs in the third, two on sacrifice flies by Hernandez and Ethan Valles and the third on a wild pitch.
Oswego scored three more runs courtesy of West Aurora’s wild pitches in the sixth to open the game.
“I think the first run in the first inning was huge for us. We settled in when we started scoring runs,” Giarrante said. “We ran the bases very well and took advantage of some of his mistakes. We did enough to get seven runs.”