Jacobs’ baseball program has come a long way in a few short months, and the Golden Eagles aren’t done yet.
After a winning season that ended with a loss to Crystal Lake South in the regional finals, Jacobs has taken the next logical step in Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association summer baseball by winning a 19-team regional tournament as top seed, and then avenging its spring season-ending loss by eliminating Crystal Lake South Monday 6-0 behind the pitching of Tim Hubner in the losers bracket of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic at North Central College.
“We hit when we needed to and it gave us a chance to survive and move on,” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said after his team advanced to play the loser of Tuesday’s St. Laurence-Montini game in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at Benedictine University.
Earlier in the day Jacobs hadn’t hit when it had runners in scoring position and suffered a tournament-opening 5-1 loss to Montini. However, the Golden Eagles got to rest a few hours and eat lunch after their loss, while Crystal Lake South had to play two extra innings in losing 5-4 to St. Laurence, then turn right around and play in the 94-degree heat and high humidity only 30 minutes later against Jacobs.
“That’s mentally and physically draining,” South coach Brian Bogda said. “We knew going in that’s what this was going to be if we lost to St. Laurence.”
Jacobs (25-3-1), which beat South 2-of-3 in the summer season, put three on the board in the second against losing pitcher Josh Smith. Tim Mahoney singled, Grant Kale walked, Hubner sacrificed them up a base and Dan Vandewalker’s high-bouncing infield ground out chased home a run. A wild pitch scored Kale. Evan Blunk and Aaron Meciej both singled, and Blunk came home at the back end of a double steal when the try for a third out on Meciej stealing second failed.
Ben Murray had the big hit in the fifth, a two-run double to center, then Vendewalker singled home Kale, who’d doubled, in the sixth.
“The second game was kind of like the way we’ve played all summer,” Murray said. “We don’t have any guys that are like major leaguers, but we have good high school baseball players who know how to pitch, play good ‘D,’ and timely hitting. That’s what happened in Game 2.”
Hubner struck out three, walked two and allowed five hits in six innings for the win. “He pitched a whale of a game,” Murray said. “And that’s a great hitting ballclub. South scored 20 runs against South Elgin (in the regional).”
Pitching hadn’t been Jacobs’ problem in the first game, either, as losing hurler Nick Ledinsky gave up only one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. But a couple critical errors and nine left on base led to the Golden Eagles’ loss.
“We really wanted to win this game today,” Hubner said of the win over South. “It was a big game for us because we know a lot of those guys and we wanted to beat them bad. Now we’re hoping we can play Montini again (Tuesday) so we can get revenge on them.”