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 April 25, 2013

No one ever said that locking down an outright Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championship would be easy.

And it certainly wasn't. Not by a long shot.

In the end, the Prairie State College baseball team just wanted it more Wednesday afternoon. And when all was said and done, it was the Pioneers who were standing tall with sole possession of the league crown firmly in hand.

PSC (20-11, 11-3) scored a hard-fought 4-3 triumph over Morton in Chicago Heights to deny conference counterpart McHenry a share of the title.

The championship is PSC's first league baseball crown.

Prairie State played the role of visitor in its own ballpark due to the fact that Tuesday's tilt was the official second game of a rescheduled conference double header with the Panthers. The original twin bill  was halted after one contest (A 5-4 PSC win) on April 15 in Cicero. Because Morton's field was deemed unplayable after Tuesday night's storms, the game was moved to PSC.

After squandering a pair of late-inning leads, the Pioneers picked up their biggest hit of the season to date from freshman shortstop Bobby Sheppard (Oak Forest H.S.).

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Sheppard blasted an RBI triple off the center field fence, plating freshman center fielder Dan Ohde (Brother Rice H.S.) with the go-ahead tally in the top of the ninth inning.

Ohde displayed the toughness that has defined the Pioneers in 2013 when he remained in the game after a painful incident in which he bunted a ball off his face during a fifth-inning at bat.

Ohde reached base in the ninth thanks to a Morton infield miscue.

The Pioneers held a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a second-inning RBI-triple off the bat of sophomore second baseman Luke Coffman (Chicago Christian H.S.).

That advantage held up until the seventh, when Morton tallied the equalizer.

PSC grabbed hold of a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth thanks to a two-run double from freshman left fielder Darrell Collins (Plainfield South H.S.).

Morton tied the contest with a pair in the eighth, setting up Sheppard's dramatics.

Sophomore Sam Cook (Lincoln-Way North H.S.) notched his fourth win of the campaign when closed out the tilt, coaxing a ground ball to Coffman for the final out.

PSC will now face Joliet Thursday in a doubleheader on the road (3 p.m.).

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