Baseball: Jacobs rallies to knock out Huntley
Updated: May 24, 2012 10:12PM
In years past when Huntley would hit Jacobs with a big inning right away, it might mean the ball game — and in a regional the end of the season.
Things are different with this Jacobs group, and Mark Self signaled that Thursday after Huntley took a 3-0 lead in the first when he led off for Jacobs in the bottom half of inning No. 1 with a solo home run, igniting a flame that eventually led to a six-run third inning and an 8-4 Golden Eagles victory in the Class 4A Huntley Regional semifinals.
“I’m sick of losing to these guys,” Self said. “I just wanted to spark something. I’d like to think that it did.”
It definitely seemed to fire up pitcher Greg Mixon, who allowed just one more run over the next four innings after allowing the three in the first, and he gave Jacobs time to recover and earn the win and a berth in Saturday’s 4 p.m. finale against Crystal Lake South.
“A lot of coaches would question why I wouldn’t start (Evan) Blunk, our all-conference pitcher,” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “(Huntley) had not seen Greg all year. He’s been with me for three years, back before when I was the pitching coach. He has problems at times with the control but he’s a warrior.
“I knew he would leave everything out there, 105 pitches and he gave us five innings and got us to a position where we could go to Blunk and then to (closer Zac) Camacho.”
Mixon (5-2) struck out none until the fifth, when Huntley put runners at second and third. He struck out the side before leaving with an 8-4 lead.
“Every count was a full count that inning, seven- or eight-pitch at-bats, and I just happened to get the batters out,” Mixon said. “It’s like coach says, I was trying to be a bulldog.”
Huntley (20-15) had taken a 3-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by Tyler Albright, Jordan Chuipek and Brody Burkart. But the Red Raiders wouldn’t score again until Tyler Bindak came in on Bryce Only’s single in the fifth before Mixon escaped the jam by striking out the side.
In the meantime, Jacobs got another run back off losing pitcher Bryan Doherty (6-3) in the second on Blunk’s sacrifice bunt. Then the Golden Eagles sent 10 to the plate in the third and got an RBI double from Greg Sidor, a game-tying RBI single by Jon Berndt, a two-run go-ahead single by pinch-hitter Joe Rizzuto, one on an error and another on a passed ball.
“We talked all week about getting that first run, and we wanted to go 1-2-3 and get that first run, but it didn’t happen,” said Murray, who had things go wrong even before the game when he lost shortstop Kenny Finn to a case of pink eye. “But I’m so proud of these guys to come back from 3-0.
“A lot of teams just fold, they think, ‘we’re done, let’s go home for the summer.’ These guys will not quit.”
Self went 3-for-4, Connor Conzelman 2-for-4 and Matt Hickey 2-for-2 for the Golden Eagles. Burkart (2-for-3) was the only Red Raider with more than one hit.
“I had us for five errors and three or four mental errors,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “You can’t give five outs plus the mental outs that we gave them, and they took advantage of it.
“Then we had baserunners in the fourth, fifth and sixth and just weren’t able to get them home. They outplayed us today. We made mistakes and they capitalized and it’s the season.”
So because Blunk threw just one scoreless inning of relief, he’s available to help Jacobs try to beat top-seeded South and win what’s believed would be the Golden Eagles’ first-ever regional title on Saturday.
“We’re not afraid of anybody,” Murray said.