Baseball: Wauconda tops Carmel to reach Elite Eight

Story Image Libertyville, IL 7/19/12 Carmel and Wauconda boys faced off in the championship game of summer league baseball at Libertyville High School, Thursday afternoon. Wauconda's first baseman Luke Kenny (25) nears tags out Carmel's Nick Grandolfo
| Rob Dicker ~ Sun-Times Media
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Updated: July 20, 2012 5:00PM

In the first 36 years of the high school summer state-tournament series, just two area teams (Stevenson in 1995 and Libertyville in 1997) have won the state title.

Next week at North Central College in Naperville, Wauconda will look to make it three area champs as they represent Lake County in the eight-team state playoffs.

The Bulldogs earned the trip to state by beating Carmel 7-5 in Thursday’s finale of the Libertyville Regional — a tourney that required Wauconda to play four games in four days and Carmel to play five games in the same time frame.

“It’s a lot of baseball in one week. It really comes down to your pitching staff — how well they’re going to respond,” said Wauconda coach Bill Sliker. “I thought our guys responded really well. Everybody accepted their role and went forward with it.”

Wauconda was 21-12 last spring and the team is on fire heading to state.

“Any time you win something like this against the quality opponents we played this week is huge. You build your confidence,” the coach said. “We beat Carmel, Prairie Ridge, Grayslake Central, and Antioch.

“When you put that many wins together against teams of that quality, it’s a great thing for your team and your program.”

Jeff Lindberg (5 2/3 innings) was the winning pitcher and Ryan Gick (1 1/3 innings) got the save.

Carmel left runners on base in scoring position in all seven innings (eight in scoring position, 11 total). Wauconda left five on in scoring position and six total.

The key frame was the bottom of the fifth when Wauconda scored three times on four walks and an error to take a 6-4 lead.

Josh Walinski was the losing pitcher and he did not make it out of the fifth.

Andrew Wienke had three hits and Tyler Murphy two for Carmel, which was directed by pitching coach Mike Miller all summer after Joe May hung up the spikes at the end of the spring season. Former Stevenson High School sophomore coach Craig Sincora has also helped out this summer.

Carmel is expected to name a head baseball coach this week.

“I have to give credit to Wauconda,” said Miller. “They seem to be on a mission.”

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