BARRINGTON – Members of the Crystal Lake Central baseball team, to a man, kept the faith.
Even trailing and down to their last out, the Tigers held out hope they could extend their season. Second baseman Connor Skrypek fought off one 3-2 pitch before singling through the hole at shortstop to bring up clean-up man Parker Harold in the top of the seventh inning.
“You have to come in relaxed and not be all tense,” Skrypek said. “I thought we had it with the middle of our lineup, we have a strong middle.”
Harold and Dan Leverenz, hitting fifth, each had RBI singles earlier. This time, however, Barrington starter Chris Nelson was not budging. Nelson got Harold on a ground ball to second to preserve the Broncos’ 4-3 victory in their Class 4A Jacobs Regional baseball tournament play-in game Monday at Coach Kirby Smith Field.
Harold took off his helmet and sank to his knees behind first base. Skrypek walked over to console his classmate as the Tigers finished their season 18-11.
“I thought for sure we were going to come back and shut them out,” Harold said.
No. 4-seeded Barrington (21-11) plays No. 1 Cary-Grove (19-11) at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at Jacobs in a regional semifinal. The winner advances to Saturday’s 10 a.m. championship game.
Leverenz and Nelson both were tough on the mound, but the Broncos took advantage of an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth for the game-winner. Central shortstop Nathan Klyczek ranged behind second base for Jake Petersen’s ground ball, but did not come up clean.
Leverenz (5-1) almost got Central out of trouble after Petersen was sacrificed to second. No. 9 hitter Joey Sciaccotta was able to dump a soft liner into center field to score Petersen with two outs.
“It felt really good to do that for the team, especially not playing that well defensively,” Sciaccotta said. “I just know I had to come through for my team. It’s a team sport and every guy needs to contribute.”
Sciaccotta was moved to shortstop when regular shortstop Dylan Lidge was a late scratch because of a hip pointer.
“[Sciaccotta] just delivered,” Barrington coach Pat Wire said. “Anytime you grow up as a kid, you want to be in that situation, and that’s Joey Sciaccotta. He’s a special, special kid.”
Leverenz allowed nine hits and two earned runs in his six innings. Tigers coach Dan Badgley marveled at what the senior right-hander did in his first season as a pitcher.
“He pitched great. He competed all year,” Badgley said. “The kid’s never pitched before this year, but we had him inside [over the winter] and got him going. He’s our No. 1 guy. He battled and got into tough spots and made big pitches.”
Tanner Larkins sent in Central’s first run with a sacrifice fly in the second. Klyczek led off the third with a single and scored on Harold’s single. Leverenz drove in another run with a bases-loaded ground ball.
Central got a pair of two-out hits in the fifth and again in the sixth, but the Tigers could not get any more runs across the plate.
“We had our opportunities,” Badgley said. “We competed with two outs, it just didn’t work out.”