Baseball: Huntley pulls away from Jacobs, reaches sectional final
Jacobs came to life in the sixth inning after Huntley starter Adam Guazzo, who allowed only one runner past first base, was taken out.
Pinch hitter Peter Mitchell greeted reliever Malachi Paplanus with a home run to right-center field, then Drew Bennett walked and Keegan Connors singled.
One out later, Jacobs' best power hitter Christian Graves came up, representing the tying run.
But Paplanus did his best to quell that the Golden Eagles' momentum, getting Graves on a hard ground ball for an inning-ending double play. And a few minutes later, Chase Jetel sealed the deal with a grand slam as the Red Raiders defeated the Eagles, 10-1, Thursday in their Class 4A Jacobs sectional semifinal.
"The reason Malachi stayed in there is he's a groundball pitcher if he's around the (strike) zone," Red Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He got the big double play and Chase blew the game open."
Huntley (31-4) will meet McHenry (28-8) in the sectional championship at 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner moves on to the Kane County Cougars supersectional at 6 p.m. Monday against the winner between Lake Park and York, who meet in Saturday's South Elgin sectional title game at Elgin Community College.
Brayden Bakes and Brandon Hanley had previously homered toward center field, where balls seemed to get an extra boost from the breeze Thursday. Jetel, a left-handed hitter, shot his ball out to left-center for the first homer of his varsity career.
"We work on situational hitting, and bases loaded, no outs, you're trying to get the ball in play," Jetel said. "Hit to the right side and I put a little charge in the ball and the wind helped it out a little bit.
"That was my approach. I'm always looking fastball and if it's there first pitch, I'm going to go for it."
Jetel looked at Huntley's dugout and screamed on his way to second base, knowing he had assured a victory.
Guazzo threw five scoreless innings, striking out six and allowing four hits with no walks. Jakubowski pulled him at 73 pitches because he felt it was time. Paplanus worked the final two innings.
Bakes started the scoring with a solo homer in the third. The Raiders added an unearned run after that. Hanley ripped a two-run shot Anthony Edge two innings later for a 4-0 lead.
"It really put a spark in our team," Hanley said. "I was just trying to battle and put the ball in play, do a job, move a guy over and luckily I got one a little inside and took it. I feel like it really sparked a charge in our offense."
Hanley, Huntley's catcher, also threw out two runners stealing second. In a tight game against Guazzo, who will pitch at Valparaiso, Jacobs coach Jamie Murray was trying to generate offense in any way possible.
"I'm proud of our guys, they competed," Murray said. "You tip your cap to Huntley, they put the ball in play and got some big hits. When it was 2-0, we tried that first-and-third, try to create a little chaos.
"Guaz is a fantastic pitcher. Even 4-1, Mitchell home run we had the juice, first and third, no outs and it just didn't work out. All the credit goes to Huntley."
Edge allowed only four hits in five innings and struck out four. Unfortunately for the Eagles, two of those hits left the park.
"You let a team get a few good pitches on you and they'll hit mistakes," Edge said. "The wind wasn't very friendly today. I executed a lot of pitches that were low and inside and they put the bat on the ball.
"The game should have been a lot different, but sometimes the baseball gods aren't on your side. We played well, besides that last inning. everything was falling apart there."
The sectional championship will feature the FVC champion (Huntley) and runner-up (McHenry), each of which was the No. 1 seed in their subsectional. Huntley is in a sectional title game for the fourth time in six years; McHenry is in a championship for the first time in Brian Rockweiler's 15 seasons as coach.
"We know McHenry pretty well," Jetel said. "We had two good games against them. We're probably going to see an arm we faced before. We're going to have to come out ready to play."