Baseball: Pitching, defense work together for Venon HillsGRAYSLAKE Tuesday May 29 2012
Grayslake Central's team cheer on Matt Loefl (4) as he crosses home plate. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 1, 2012 11:05PM
Tyler Feece pitched a four-hitter as Vernon Hills blanked St. Viator 3-0 on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A sectional baseball tournament at Grayslake Central.
The Cougars (30-8, school record for wins) will play the host Rams at 11 on Saturday morning in the finals.
This will be Vernon Hills’ first sectional-final appearance since 2005.
Feece (12-2) fanned only the first batter of the game, and he walked no one.
“They were free-swingers,” Feece said. “The best way to approach that is to get ahead in the count.
“My outfield didn’t let me down. M.J. Crowley (left fielder) made a great play (diving catch in the third inning), and Eric (Lang, center fielder with three putouts) was running down everything,” Feece added. “(Shortstop Jake) Boyer in the hole ... it was a total team effort on defense.”
Boyer saved a run in the fourth when he threw out a hitter on a grounder into the hole with a runner on second.
Vernon Hills got its runs in the third (RBI single by Feece) and fifth (two-run homer by Austin Hagen).
“This is our first team with 30 wins. That’s a huge accomplishment for the kids,” said Cougars coach Jason Czarnecki.
As for Feece, he’s been rock-solid all season.
“The second inning, Tyler had 3-0 (counts) on three guys in a row,” Czarnecki said. “We grabbed him between innings and said, ‘Tyler, you’re not going to last until the end of the game if you go out there trying to throw too hard.’
“I don’t know what change he made, but he started working ahead and changing speeds.
“When we started making plays behind him, he got in that groove where it was, ‘Go ahead and hit it. I’m going to trust my teammates.’
“Everyone was involved today ... into the game. A lot of guys make big plays. That’s what team baseball is about.”
For the winners, Lang was 2-for-4 and was on base when Hagen homered.
St. Viator finished the season 21-17.
“It was a good game all the way around,” said Lions coach Mike Manno. “They got some clutch hits. I thought we hit the ball pretty well, but they made some good plays. Their kid was a tough pitcher.”