CRYSTAL LAKE – Thanks to a senior-laden lineup last season, the top of Dan Badgley’s summer lineup didn’t play regularly in the spring, but the Crystal Lake Central baseball coach has the utmost confidence in their ability to get on base.
“They’re hard-nosed kids, program kids,” Badgley said of Rob Aunan, Tony Onorato and Matt Tegtmeier, his 1-2-3 hitters, who will be seniors next season. “They’ve put their time in here; they’ve done everything we’ve asked, and they’re seeing the rewards from it now. All three of them.”
Aunan, Onorato and Tegtmeier each reached based three times in their first four at-bats and scored a combined six runs on Monday to help spur No. 7 seed Crystal Lake Central to a 9-7 win over No. 10 McHenry in a nine-inning, opening-round game of the Phil Lawler Classic at Central.
The Tigers will play Carmel on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Libertyville Regional at 2 p.m. at Libertyville High School.
Monday’s game was originally scheduled to be played at McHenry’s Petersen Park, but Fiesta Days forced relocation.
“A couple years ago, we don’t win that game,” Badgley said. “Today, we just fought back and did a nice job.”
McHenry’s starting senior pitcher, Nick Redmond, fought through some poor defensive play and allowed seven hits and four earned runs in five innings of work. He retired the side in order in the second inning and recorded four strikeouts and three walks.
“Our hitting is a pretty good strength and defense most of the time ... but pitching is kind of suspect at times,” McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler. “We have a lot of new guys ... we lost a lot of our pitching from last year.”
Down by three runs in the sixth inning, Central senior Eric Jensen drove in Onorato and Tegtmeier on a shot to deep left field. Junior Rob Cormier hit a blooper over the third baseman on the next at-bat that drove in fellow junior call-up Matthew DeCoste to knot the score, 7-7.
Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth innings, and Badgley brought Cormier in to pitch and prolong the stalemate.
“We don’t have an overpowering pitcher, but everybody that comes in here throws strikes,” Badgley said.
In the ninth inning, the Tigers finally broke through after Jensen reached based on an error. A sacrifice bunt from Cormier moved him over, and senior Luke Francis’ second hit of the night brought Jensen in for the go-ahead run. Then Junior Alan Pawlicki sent a grounder down the left field line that McHenry’s cut-off man bobbled, allowing Allen to score an insurance run.
“We have speed all the way around,” Badgley said. “That’s the kind of team we are. We’re scrappy.”
Cormier picked up the win in relief. He allowed three hits, issued one strikeout, walked one and allowed no runs in four innings of work.
Badgley took the win in stride.
“I play everybody in the summer, so last year we beat Lake Zurich in the first round,” he said. “We’re not a pushover team.”