Squeeze bunt turns tide in Kaneland’s favorKaneland's Drew French lays down a bunt against Waterloo. | Paul James Bergstrom~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2011 6:37PM
JOLIET — Jake Razo danced away from third base and Brian Dixon held a lead at first, drawing three consecutive throws from Waterloo starter A.J. Crutchfield. On each pickoff attempt, Waterloo head coach Mark Vogel saw Razo take a step toward home.
Feeling a suicide squeeze might be on with Kaneland catcher Tyler Heinle at the plate, Vogel called for a pitchout.
Crutchfield delivered, but not wide enough, and the right-handed Heinle pushed the bunt hard past Crutchfield toward first. Razo broke for home and scored easily as Crutchfield scrambled to get Heinle at first.
He fell on the ball, then shoveled wide toward the Knights dugout.
“We were expecting it, which is why we called it,” Vogel said of the squeeze and pitchout. “It was out, but it wasn’t out far enough. You’ve got to give their kid credit. It was not a pitch to handle and he got it down and put it in a spot where our pitcher had to make a really good play to get him out at first.
“To me, that’s the key of the game. If we execute it, its 2-2 and we come back in and anything can happen.”
Razo’s run proved to be the winning score in the Knights’ 8-2 Class 3A semifinal victory Friday afternoon at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
A catcher himself, Heinle anticipated anything but a strike after Crutchfield made his third toss to first.
“I saw the pitcher and catcher make eye contact and I knew something was coming up. I saw the ball tail outside and I just reached out there and put it down the first base side,” he said. “I’m one of the best bunters on the team. I love bunting. It comes easy to me, and when I saw the suicide squeeze I got excited and made a nice play.”
That aggressiveness has defined head coach Brian Aversa’s style, and Friday’s game was no different. Before the squeeze, Aversa sent Drew French home from second base on a single by Dixon to tie the game.
In the sixth, Kyle Davidson, Corey Landers and Bobby Thorson all scored from second base on singles.
“We knew they had a great catcher with a great arm, and with a lefty (starter) it’s hard to get a great jump on the kid so we had to put pressure on in different ways,” Aversa said. “We love to be aggressive on the bases, we’re sending everybody from second.”
That style has endeared Aversa to his players, and it has given the Knights confidence they can produce runs despite not having much power. Of Kaneland’s 11 hits, just three went for extra bases.
“Coach is not too old, he’s a young guy like us, he really thinks like us and he wants to be aggressive like us,” Razo said. “He’s not afraid to take chances and it’s been paying off for us lately.”