Big bats power Spartans past Leyden
Updated: June 4, 2011 9:48PM
Few enjoyed the view more Saturday than Alex Hermeling as Glenbrook North banged out 18 hits and had a seven-run second inning in a 15-6 win over Leyden in the championship game of the Glenbrook South Class 4A Sectional.
Hermeling, the Spartans’ outstanding senior pitcher, said the early big inning and overall offensive support from his teammates made his job a bit easier.
“Our offense has been tremendous for us, and when we got that early lead it allowed me to relax more and pitch with even more confidence,” he said. “I knew I still had to stay focused, though, because we knew Leyden is a good team that can come back.”
The Eagles (28-6), the top-seeded team in the Glenbrook South Sectional, had rallied from five runs down three days earlier against New Trier for a 9-8 Sectional semifinal victory. A long home run by Justin Stawychny on a 2-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the fifth Saturday prevented the 10-run rule from going into effect and ending the game with No. 2-seed Glenbrook North winning, 14-4. But The Spartans (33-3) were able to prevent a huge comeback, behind the pitching of Hermeling and Jason Pomeroy, who worked the final two innings.
“That’s a good team, and we knew we’d have to play seven innings to beat them,” Glenbrook North coach Dominic Savino said. “I was very happy with the approach our players took at bat. We tried to grind it out, and a lot of different guys came up big for us. It’s important not to rely on one person, and a lot of different guys did the job for us today with their bats.”
One of the big bats belonged to Ryan Slawin, who was 4-for-5, including a homer in the top of the seventh. Slawin and Jack Day each had four hits for the Spartans. Teammate Brett Synek added three.
“We kind of liked being the lower seed,” Slawin said. “It gave us a chance to hit first and get things started.”
It was Leyden that actually got on the scoreboard first. After Eagles’ starting pitcher Eric Palmer allowed a hit and a walk after getting the first two hitters of the game, the senior right-hander got out of a potential jam with another ground out.
Hermeling struggled with his control early, walking Eli Perez and Carlos Olavarria to start the bottom of the first. Perez advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and came home on an infield hit by Palmer that gave Leyden a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans used five hits, including a bunt single; a dropped third strike and an error in the top of the second to score seven runs. Sean Thomas and Day each drove in a pair of runs with hits in the inning.
Angel Sanchez took over on the mound for Leyden in the third, and Glenbrook North extended its lead to 11-1 on a two-run triple off the outfield fence by Brett Synek, an RBI single by Chad Bruce and a ground ball out.
The Eagles cut the lead to 11-4 in the bottom of the third on an RBI-double by Stawychny and Palmer’s two-run single. Glenbrook North then extended its advantage to 14-4 in the top of the fourth.
A two-run double by Bruce was the key hit in the inning. Stawychny’s homer in the bottom of the fifth kept the game going, and each team added a run in the seventh.
“This team did so many great things this year; I’m sorry we had to end it like this,” Leyden coach Gary Wolf said. “We knew coming into the game that we didn’t have a lot of options with our pitching because (Palmer) had to pitch Wednesday (against New Trier). We thought we’d get a couple of innings each from a few different guys.
“Glenbrook North hit the ball where we weren’t, and we had to make some plays that we didn’t make.”