With Maine West’s Crosley Duckmann on the pond, cousin Geoff Duckmann sent him flying home with the eventual winning run in the 13th inning for a 5-4 marathon victory over Oak Park-River Forest Wednesday in a Fenwick Regional semifinal of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Summer Classic state tournament.
The Warriors will face Lyons at 2 p.m. Thursday for the Fenwick Regional championship in River Forest.
Oak Park continued to show its flair for the dramatic during the summer season when it trailed Maine West 4-1 with one out and nobody on base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Daine Mrozek singled, Henry Pine was hit by a pitch and Patrick Clifford lined a single to load the bases.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Nelson then smashed a shot to right-center field for a double that drove in Mrozek and Pine before Clifford scored on a sacrifice fly by Keith Rogalla.
As the game entered extra innings, the pitching took charge again, bending on both sides but refusing to allow a run. That’s when Crosley Duckmann (3-for-6, run) cracked a one-out double, Raul Anaya (3-for-5, triple, BB, HBP, two runs) was hit by a pitch and Geoff Duckmann broke the scoring drought with a single to drive in cousin Crosley.
Oak Park managed only six hits off three Maine West pitchers as Austin Jablenski picked up the victory in two innings of work. Ryan Lowe held the Huskies in check with five scoreless innings in relief of starter Justin Mustari (seven innings, four runs, walk, strikeout).
“We’re getting pretty comfortable with our young pitchers, but the kids are doing pretty well,” Maine West coach Joe Pederson said. “We have a lot of kids back from the spring and we’re just hungry and they’ve just responded during the summer. Oak Park is the state champion, they scored three in the seventh and that speaks volumes about their character and who they are. They came back, but our kids responded and we got it done.”
Oak Park coach Chris Ledbetter was disappointed but proud of the way his squad battled.
“We competed, but I would have like to have seen us get some better at-bats,” Ledbetter said. “I thought we had their pitcher crippled a couple of times where he was forced to throw the fastball and we were lazy or late on the swing, just kind of defensive and I think that hurt us. But we made some good defensive plays late in the game when we had to. You hope the kids take this summer league play seriously, and I think they did, and you build off it.”
Sam Cottingham-Beard (four strikeouts, eight hits, three walks), who pitched the first five innings for the Huskies (15-5), led the offensive with a pair of doubles.