STE. GENEVIEVE – The North County lineup spoiled numerous pitches from opposing hurler Cole Wood, and produced three runs after two outs had been recorded in the first inning on Tuesday.
With district tournament play approaching this weekend, the disciplined approach at the plate was a positive sign for the visiting Raiders during their 5-2 road victory at Valle Catholic.
Winning pitcher Brian Chandler tossed four strong innings with seven strikeouts, and Pruneau earned a three-inning save in a designed abbreviated outing.
North County (16-7) spotted Chandler an immediate 3-0 lead, highlighted by RBI singles from Pruneau and Nick Parker while Karson Kekec crossed the dish on the wild pitch.
Wood responded from a lead-off double by Drew Forney by winning a 10-pitch battle against ensuing hitter Briley Smith, but the foundation was established for a taxing opening frame.
Tristan Rollhaus matched Wood offensively by going 2-for-4 with a double for Valle Catholic (22-4) in the last of three meetings this season with North County.
Rollhaus alertly advanced two bases on a slow roller in the home half of the first inning, and Chris Loida trimmed the Valle deficit to 3-1 with an RBI ground out.
The Warriors were unable to maximize other scoring chances, however, including a serious threat after drawing slightly closer in the fifth.
Chandler worked around a hit batsmen and two-out error in the fourth to complete his day, and Forney caught a trailing runner wandering from first base to end the third.
Wood settled in to retire nine of his last 11 batters faced, and fanned five over four innings in defeat. He received further help with catcher Chase Dunlap caught a runner stealing to erase a walk.
Raiders right fielder Dawson Harper denied Rollhaus of a third hit with a sliding grab, but Valle Catholic still applied pressure against Pruneau in the fifth.
Loida drew the second walk of the frame after Wood ripped a line drive that redirected off Pruneau for an infield single. Kaden Bauman then made it 3-2 with an RBI hit to right.
The bases remained loaded with one out, but Kekec fielded a ground ball near third base and threw home for an important force play.
Pruneau protected the lead from there with an inning-ending strikeout, and followed with a clean sixth that required only six pitches.
Dawson Harper picked up another two-out RBI for North County in the sixth when his infield hit found daylight between the third baseman and shortstop.
Kolten Poorman singled against reliever Nolan Schwent, and scored an insurance tally on a booted ball in the seventh. Each team finished with six hits.
Schwent doubled and reached base twice for the Warriors, who will host Class 2, District 3 as the No. 1 seed and face either St. Vincent or Meadow Heights on Saturday.
North County will close the regular season and honor its seniors against Sikeston on Wednesday.
Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.com