Baseball: Late Homewood-Flossmoor rally sends Sandburg packing
Updated: May 26, 2012 7:34PM
Homewood-Flossmoor’s Elon Chamberlain didn’t have an elaborate game plan Saturday when he approached the batter’s box with two outs and runners on second and third base in the seventh inning of a 3-3 game.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” he said.
“When you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
They certainly did for Chamberlain and the Vikings.
After flailing badly at two pitches — both breaking balls by Sandburg’s Ryan Donegan — Chamberlain worked the count to 2-and-2 before hitting what appeared to be an inning-ending grounder to first baseman Alec Nelson.
The ball, however, took a vicious hop, bounding over Nelson’s head for a two-run single that scored Nick Brandt and Dan Lietz, who both had reached via walks.
H-F plated another run and registered a 6-3 win over Sandburg to claim the H-F Regional title.
It’s the Vikings’ first regional title since 2009 and the first time Sandburg didn’t win a regional in 12 years. H-F (22-11) moves on to play Lincoln-Way North on Thursday at the Andrew Sectional.
“Elon really battled,” H-F coach Todd Sippel said. “He found a way to put the ball in play.”
H-F ace Lietz (8-4) picked up the complete-game win. The senior struggled at times, allowing six hits, walking three and striking out seven in a 104-pitch effort.
“I didn’t have my best curveball or fastball today,” Lietz said. “I felt good in the bullpen, but it didn’t carry over into the game.”
Dylan Rajkovich led off the second with a home run to center field to stake the Eagles to a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived, though, as H-F countered with two runs in the third against Sandburg’s Matt Farrington. David Stern (3-for-4) hammered a 2-and-1 offering over the left-field fence to tie the game and a two-out error allowed Ben Kirchler to score for a 2-1 advantage.
Sandburg (23-8), however, struck back with two runs in its half of the third. Dan Rizzie knotted the game with an RBI single and Rajkovich gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice fly.
Mike Hurley’s bloop single to center in the fourth plated Chamberlain, who was hit by a pitch, to tie the game at 3.
It was a tough day for Sandburg, which stranded seven runners, committed two errors, hit three batters and walked four.
“The little things — hitting guys and walking guys — killed us today,” Sandburg coach Jim Morsovillo said.