Kaneland, Marmion ready to rollMarmion Academy's Tim Tarter delivers a pitch in the second inning during their Class 3A regional final game against Hampshire at Hampshire Saturday afternoon. May 28, 2011. Marmion Academy won the game 13-1 in 5 innings. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 31, 2011 7:06PM
A year ago, Marmion came within an eyelash of winning its first sectional title, losing by a run to a DeKalb team that wound up taking second in the Class 3A state finals.
The lesson learned was one that the game remains a game, no matter what that game is called by the IHSA.
“I think last year when we almost won the sectional, the seniors realized we were actually pretty darn close to making it to Joliet,” Cadets coach Dave Rakow said. “It motivated some of those guys.”
The veterans on this season’s roster took that to heart and along with many new faces not only won the program’s third consecutive conference championship (and second straight in the Suburban Christian Conference) but also captured another regional to send the Cadets back to sectional play.
“It’s something where we’re right back where we were last year and we hope we can make a run that’s a little bit deeper than last year,” Rakow said.
Marmion (20-8) has been led by the one-two pitching combination of Tim Tarter (9-0) and Tyler Friel (opponent batting average of .150). The two senior workhorses combined for an eight-inning, 1-0 win in the regional semifinal over Crystal Lake Central.
Tarter is going to start Thursday against Rochelle, with Friel ready to go on Saturday.
“Our pitching and defense has been the one constant advantage we’ve had over teams all season,” Rakow said. “With good pitching and defense we’re going to be in every game, and it’s just a matter of if the bats show up. Then we’ll have a really good chance of winning those games. That’s been there all season, so I think we’ll at least be in the games going through the sectional. It doesn’t guarantee we’re going to win anything, but I like our odds.”
On the other side of the bracket sits SCC rival Marian Central Catholic, which took fourth in 3A last season, and Kaneland.
While the Hurricanes return 12 players from its trophy-winning team last year, the Knights are in uncharted territory, having won the program’s first regional title on the weekend.
“We understand what we did and we’re happy with it, but we’re definitely not satisfied with where we’re at right now and we’re looking to improve on it,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. “We understand Marian has the experience and knows what’s going on, but we’re hoping to experience it ourselves.”
Aversa did say he his team, which is a mix of primarily seniors and juniors, will need a bit of work in coming down off the good feelings following the regional victory.
“We have to re-focus,” Aversa said. “The focus for a long time was winning a regional and now the focus has to be winning a sectional and taking it game by game and it starts (today). We know what we need to do and we know what we have to do.”
Like Marmion, Kaneland (21-10) is well positioned for a sectional crown with a rested pitching staff.
Because the Knights play Wednesday, Bobby Thorson will not be able to start on short rest following his complete game Saturday over Sycamore.
Instead, the Knights will throw undefeated Kyle Davidson (5-0), with the possibility of Thorson closing if need be. Drew Peters (2-1) is also healthy and rested after tossing a five-inning perfect game in the semi-final against IMSA.
“Those three guys, we’re going to roll with them as far as we can and as far as we need to,” Aversa said. “Kyle and Bobby are two seniors and throw Drew in the mix, those guys are really excited about the opportunities they’re going to have and they’re going to after it. That’s our best foot forward. They’re going to be our best three and you’ve got to play your best.”