Baseball: Libertyville reaches 1,300-win milestone
The words of the day on Warren's baseball field in steamy Gurnee Tuesday afternoon were "a" and "lot."
Libertyville senior first baseman Cole Collins had a key 10-plus-pitch at-bat that ended with a bases-packed walk in the Wildcats' 2-run third inning.
"A lot of pitches," Collins said.
Libertyville led 7-0 in the top of the fifth before hanging on to post a 7-5 victory in the North Suburban Conference contest.
And the win was Libertyville's 1,300th in program history.
"How many?" Warren coach Clint Smothers asked.
"That's a lot," said Smothers, who is in his 26th season as a coach in Warren's baseball program. "Somebody told me last week that I had won my 300th here at the school."
Alert, fearless baserunning by Wildcats senior third baseman Everett Cortesi, who had singled, highlighted the visitors' first run in a 2-run first inning off Blue Devils senior starter Kendall Lyons.
Cortesi scored all the way from first base on senior outfielder Ryan Thrawl's single to right-center. Thrawl would finish with a busy 2-for-2, 2-walk afternoon.
An RBI-single by senior outfielder Connor Dickson knocked in Thrawl.
Two innings later -- after a walk to senior catcher Dylan Holmes and consecutive singles from Thrawl and Dickson -- Collins fouled off a slew of pitches on a 3-2 count before drawing the pivotal walk.
"The energy level got higher with each pitch," Collins said.
Added Libertyville coach Matt Thompson: "Huge. That was a huge at-bat by Cole. We want to be that team that doesn't give up with two strikes. Our emphasis has been to have a good approach with two strikes.
"We saw that during Cole's lengthy plate appearance."
Collins' walk made it 3-0, and a double-play groundout increased the lead to 4-0. Collins singled home the Wildcats' first run in their 3-run sixth inning ahead of senior shortstop Michael Kelly's RBI groundout.
Libertyville (22-6, 11-1 in the NSC) scored its final run on Warren's fifth and final error.
But Warren (16-8, 7-4), which lost 13-1 to host Libertyville on Monday afternoon, refused to wilt on the 85-degree day, scoring 4 runs on a pair of 2-run doubles from Lyons and senior Tim Palazzolo in the bottom of the fifth inning.
A run-scoring single off the bat of junior shortstop Adam Schilz (3-for-4) cut the advantage to 7-5.
"We haven't had that many games where we took a good lead and then had to respond after giving up several runs," Thompson said. "So it was good to see what we did today. This was perfect ... perfect preparation for the playoffs. This game had a playoff atmosphere at the end."
Libertyville starter Jonathan Ciullo improved to 5-0, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing 4 runs and 8 hits. The righty fanned 7 and walked only 1. Hard-throwing senior Michael Addari got the save after striking out 2 in the seventh inning.
Lyons (4-3) also worked 4 2/3 innings.
"Kendall pitched well, kept us in the game," said Smothers, whose club outhit Libertyville 11-9. "Our biggest problem this season has been our defense. Five, six, seven errors in a game ... you can't have that many.
"We can compete. Look at the number of hits we had today."