Harris delivers on mound for StreamwoodStreamwood's Josh Harris delivers a pitch Saturday against Cary-Grove. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2011 8:08PM
DEKALB — Like a weary prizefighter, Streamwood senior Josh Harris raised both arms in the air as his teammates raced to the mound to celebrate Saturday.
Moments earlier the Villanova-bound lefty put an end to the DeKalb Class 4A Sectional championship game by striking out Cary-Grove heavyweight Michael Vilardo for the fourth time of the day as the Sabres notched a 2-1 victory to prolong their magical season.
A pair of RBI singles in the fifth and sixth innings proved to be enough offense for Harris (7-2), who seized the moment in the biggest game in his program’s history by striking out nine, walking one and allowing one earned run on eight hits in a complete-game effort.
“I knew these guys were relying on me to get it done in that last inning and I gave it all I had,” Harris said. “I’m so proud of our guys. We scrapped together a couple runs and that’s all we needed. We always find a way. This has just been an amazing ride.”
With the win Streamwood becomes the first Elgin School District U46 baseball team to win a sectional title since Larkin accomplished the feat in 1991. This comes one week after the Sabres claimed the first regional title in the program’s 32-year history.
Next up for Streamwood (30-6) is a showdown with Lyons (34-4) in the Rockford Supersectional at 7 p.m. Monday at Road Ranger Stadium. The winner advances to the state finals next weekend at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
“Our banner in the gym was blank,” Streamwood coach Steve Diversey said. “Now we’ve got our conference numbers up there, our regional numbers up there and now our sectional numbers. Now we’ve got one more to go for.”
“We told the kids going into today there’s four more (wins) to go. Now there’s three more.”
Cary-Grove (28-10) held the upper hand for much of the game after Matt Panek led off the top of the second with a double and came home on Kevin Weber’s RBI single in the next at-bat to put the Trojans ahead 1-0. That’s where the score remained until the bottom of the fifth when the Sabres finally mustered some offense against Cary-Grove starter John Spoelstra.
Harris led off the inning by walking on four pitches, and two batters later Nick Pryor delivered a one-out single to move courtesy runner Brent Kiesel to second. Pat Manning then came through with two outs when he lined the eighth pitch of his at-bat to shallow center to bring home Kiesel to tie the score at 1.
“I was just looking to make some contact,” Manning said. “He threw me a 3-2 curve ball and I just locked the hands in, made contact and got a hit.”
Streamwood received some help from the Trojans when pushing across what turned out to be the winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Brandon Larkin-Guilfoyle led off the inning with a walk, and pinch-runner Edgar Saldivar safely reached second when Vilardo failed to catch what would have been a force out at second on Tim Cohen’s sacrifice bunt attempt.
The miscue proved costly when Alex Morrow followed with an RBI single to left to drive in Saldivar and put the Sabres ahead 2-1.
The Trojans didn’t go quietly as they had a great scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh when Matt Byrne doubled with one out. Nick Richter was hit by a pitch in the next-at bat, putting runners at first and second for Vilardo.
The talented Richmond-bound slugger’s rough day continued when he apparently waved Byrne to third base on a Harris pitch in the dirt. Streamwood catcher Nick Pryor quickly recovered the ball and fired to third, easily throwing out Byrne. Two pitches later Vilardo went down swinging to end the game.
“(Harris) is a great pitcher,” Vilardo said. “He’s going to Villanova for a reason and he had pro scouts here watching him for a reason. He had my number today and I tip my cap to him. He beat me today and I hope they keep going the rest of the way.”
Byrne went 2-for-4 to lead Cary-Grove’s offense. Spoelstra (8-3) was the tough-luck loser after allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out five and walking four in six innings.
Pryor was 2-for-3 for Streamwood. The Sabres played error-free ball behind Harris, who was given the game ball by Diversey.
“Harris was phenomenal,” Diversey said. “He took a great hitting team and kept them at bay. We moved on because of him.”