Griffins prove too much for rival NorthLincoln-Way East's Mark Chemello pitches against Lincoln-Way North. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 2, 2011 8:13PM
Few teams, if any, boasted the explosive offense of Lincoln-Way North this spring.
The Phoenix scored at least 10 runs in 24 of its 33 games.
On Thursday, North proved no match for Lincoln-Way East pitcher Mark Chemello.
The junior fired a five-hitter and struck out four to lead the Griffins to a 3-0 upset win against North in a Sandburg Sectional semifinal.
The Griffins (24-11) will now play Sandburg Saturday in the sectional championship.
“We knew they had good hitters,” said Chemello, who improved to 9-1. “My approach was to mix up my pitches a lot. But we stuck with the fastball.”
Chemello had to wiggle out of a few jams, the biggest being a two on, two out pickle in the third. But the right-hander caught No. 3 hitter A.J. Neufeld looking at a heater to escape.
The Griffins put two more runners on in the fourth. Once again, Chemello stymied the rally, getting Luke Waldier to line out softly to shortstop Joe Piersanti to end the inning.
“Chemello was fantastic,” East coach Paul Babcock said. “He had a few jams here and there. He made a couple of huge pitches. He was really popping the glove.”
While Chemello was silencing North’s bats, East was effectie enough to squeeze three runs across the plate.
North coach Joe Skarbek elected to start Sam Cook on the mound and save ace Jake Harper for a potential Saturday matchup against Sandburg.
It wouldn’t have mattered who Skarbek handed the ball to on this day.
The name of the game is scoring more runs than your opponent.
“That didn’t cost us,” said Skarbek of his pitching decision. “Sam did a great job. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
East could. Alec Ornelas’ single to left field in the third inning scored Cody Justus for a 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the seventh. Justus led off with a single and Bobby Kosola recorded a base hit. Cook uncorked a wild pitch to advance both runners into scoring position.
Cook was one pitch away from escaping the jam, jumping ahead of Matt Rosenberger one-and-two.
But he left a curveball over the plate and Rosenberger lined it off the glove of a leaping Alex Eaton at third base to score both runners and make it 3-0.
“We had two strikes and two outs and both kids put the ball in play,” said Babcock of Ornelas and Rosenberger. “Those were timely hits.”
Despite losing to North 9-3 back on March 31, the Griffins were confident they would prevail.
“We were very confident,” Ornelas said. “We’re playing a lot better now.”