Sandburg beats Andrew on walkoff double

Story Image Sandburg’s Lora Olson pitches to Andrew during the
Sectional Championship game in Lockport Saturday.
June, 4, 2011.
Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: June 4, 2011 9:31PM

Lexi Bryant stood a couple of feet off second base, hands on her head, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Soon she would join the wild, joyous scene at home plate, where her Sandburg teammates were celebrating her walkoff two-run double that gave the Eagles a 2-1 Class 4A Lockport Sectional title game victory over Andrew.

But for a moment or two, a hero needed to cry.

“It’s my senior year, you know,” she said. “It means so much to me. I knew we could do it, but it made me so happy that we could all come together in the seventh inning and do this.”

No. 2 Sandburg (28-6) is to play Moline (26-8) Monday at 6 p.m. in a Class 4A Normal Supersectional at Illinois State University. The two teams met in a doubleheader in Moline on March 19, with Sandburg prevailing 9-0 and 10-4.

No 3 Andrew closed at 28-10.

The Eagles didn’t punch their supersectional ticket as much as they crushed it.

Sandburg, which had eight runners stranded over the first six innings by Andrew junior Brooke Hofer, was down to its final two outs when Candice Koch provided a spark by drawing a five-pitch walk.

Lizzie Wojtowicz was next and smoked a double to the fence in left field, sending Koch to third.

“It was crunch time,” Wojtowicz said. “We’ve been in this position before. I knew our time would come. I was just trying to get on base.”

Bryant put Andrew coach Jim Holba in a position that myriad coaches have faced over the past two seasons — whether to walk Bryant with the game on the line or face equally tough Jessica Perkins.

Holba chose Bryant.

“I thought about (walking her),” Holba said. “But I thought we did a nice job pitching to her. We just kept working her outside.”

Bryant, who was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, swooped at one outside pitch and fouled it off. She creamed the next one, sending it well over the head of right fielder Jessie Tucker.

Bryant wasn’t the only one overcome with emotion when Wojtowicz crossed the plate with the winning run.

“Gosh, she has done it time and time again,” misty-eyed Eagles coach Jim Fabianski said of Bryant. “She has got to be one of the most awesome girls I have ever met.

“She’s been money so many times in so many situations. Today she had a couple of wild swings, but she was working with that girl (anticipating outside pitches). Lexi played her cards right.”

Wojtowicz also came up aces in a critical sixth inning situation.

Andrew had gone in front 1-0 when Kelly Christner drove a one-out single and her sister Katie cracked an RBI triple to left. Jenna Lenza followed with a suicide squeeze bunt that Wojtowicz alertly snapped up and flipped to Bryant, who tagged a sliding Christner.

“We had watched their game against H-F the other day and they did the same exact thing,” Wojtowicz said. “Once my coaches told me, ‘Hey, watch the squeeze,’ I knew it was coming. I just released it as fast as I could, and Lexi made a nice tag at home.”

The rally gave Lora Olson her 19th pitching win. The senior right-hander held Andrew to four hits, striking out eight.

“I really didn’t know what to think (after the sixth inning), there were just so many emotions,” Olson said. “But I knew that the fight wasn’t over. I was just going to stay positive, and battle through it.

“Thanks to my teammates, we came up with the win. And wow, we’re livin’ another day.”

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