MISHAWAKA — A barking elbow set J.C. Turley back in April, but as the calendar turned to May, New Prairie's No. 2 arm was back in old form.
"We were having a good season and I wanted to pitch, but I realized it wasn't worth it to risk further injury," Turley said. "I just had to keep doing what they were telling me to do, rest it, rehab it, to build it back up. I didn't rush it."
Patience proved wise and beneficial as Turley tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball Saturday to help the Cougars advance to today's Class 3A Mishawaka Marian Sectional final.
"I started off slow, but now I'm back at least to where I was before if not better," Turley said. "I'm not a big strikeout guy. I'm more of a contact pitcher. I just let them hit the ball, let my teammates make plays, like we have all season."
Turley stranded two runners in the first and was cruised into the fifth before exiting with few enough pitches thrown to be available for South Bend St. Joseph if needed.
"That was the plan," NP coach Mark Schellinger said. "It's nice to have him back for sure. We know he's going to be around the plate. He works ahead, he keeps the fielders into it. He gets in a good rhythm. No matter what goes on, he's in control. He doesn't worry about things he can't control. He stays cool on the mound. JC can blow it by guys, but he works both sides of the plate, he mixes speeds real well. He gets guys out in front and gets weak contact."
Jimtown broke the shutout with two hits and a walk off Noah Brettin, but he escaped further damage, backing up the play on an errant relay throw and flipping to catcher Ethan Nielson to cut down Brandon Coble.
"We've got the utmost confidence in Noah," Schellinger said. "It was a good time to get him in there. He had a little pressure there and responded pretty well."
New Prairie led 6-1 at that point after tagging Coble for six runs in the first two innings. Gavin Kelly delivered a two-out RBI single in the first and the Cougars sent 10 hitters to the dish in a five-run second when the first five batters reached safely.
"We always want to score first," Schellinger said. "Once you score first, you can have shutdown innings. It allows you to be aggressive in certain areas. You want to come in ready to play and we set the tone.",
The score held until the fifth when Jacob Dockery singled in his second and third runs with two down. J.C. Turley, Frank Turley and Lukas Fozo notched RBI hits in the sixth, the last two also coming with two outs, Frank Turley sliding in just ahead of the tag to end the game.
"I thought we had a real good approach at the plate," Schellinger said. "We were patiently aggressive if that's a thing. We made them come to us, then when they were in the zone, we were aggressive. We got a couple first-pitch base hits on fastballs. Gavin was just doing what he has done all year. I'd like to look back and see how many two-out hits he has. Across the board, one through nine, we had contributions, even the guys who weren't getting hits."
N.P. (24-6) also dimed Jimtown in their prior matchup, 14-4. It faces St. Joe this morning, weather permitting, in a rematch of an early-season meeting won by the Cougars 3-2.
Class 3A Mishawaka Marian Sectional
New Prairie 11, Jimtown 1 (6 innings)
Jacob Dockery drove in three runs.