Baseball: Grayslake Central starts strong, holds off LakesGRAYSLAKE Tuesday May 29 2012
Grayslake Central's Ryan Fontana (42) is congratulate by his teammates as he crosses home plate. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 30, 2012 10:29PM
Host Grayslake Central scored the game’s first 10 runs, but failed to close it out in the fifth on the slaughter rule and wound up having to hold off Lakes 11-7 on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Class 3A sectional baseball tournament.
The Rams (29-9) will play St. Viator or Vernon Hills on Saturday in the finals.
Wednesday’s game was far from a classic, but it did have some quirks that gave it flavor.
For one, seven pitchers were used and six threw left-handed.
For another, Lakes got all seven of its runs on homers, which were its first two blasts of the entire season (21-17 record).
Senior star Chris Hoffman (College of Lake County) hit a three-run blast to left in the fifth to rescue Lakes from the 10-run rule. Junior Mike Bartlett then popped a grand slam in the sixth to make the game 11-7.
On the other side, the Rams’ 3-4-5-6 hitters combined to go 9-for-14 with a home run, seven RBI, two doubles, a walk, and an HBP. The home run was a two-run shot off the bat of 5-6 junior shortstop Ryan Fontana, his second of the year.
Fontana finished with three hits and four RBI, while Jon Gurchak (2-for-4), Kirstian Meehan (2-for-3) and Sean Boban (2-for-3) also supplied offensive pop.
After Bartlett’s slam, Lakes was unable to keep the attack going against Mike Wiggins, who closed out the game with a 1-2-3 seventh.
“The fans paid five dollars. We wanted to make sure we gave them their money’s worth. They would have been short-changed if we sent them home by 5:30,” joked winning coach Troy Whalen about losing the 10-0 lead two outs from a slaughter-rule win.
“The difference in the game was really the first inning. They have the bases loaded and nobody out and we get a pop out and Jay Kleinofen makes a phenomenal play to double them off. We come back in the bottom of the first and score four.”
That, indeed was the decisive frame, as Lakes played uphill the rest of the way.
“All year, our guys have shown a ton of toughness and grit,” said Lakes coach Ray Gialo. “They definitely didn’t want to go down getting 10-runned. They battled their tails off to make it respectable. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they fought back.
“This group of seniors did everything that was asked of them,” the coach added. “We had three guys who have been on varsity for four years (Chris Hoffman, Nick Traska, Jake Brown). For those guys to get the chance to win a regional, while some teams that people might say had more talent didn’t, just shows the measure of these kids’ character.”