Huntley baseball eliminated from state final

LISLE — Pitching and defense have been the key to the Huntley baseball team's success throughout the summer.

The Red Raiders relied on their pitcher's arms and fielders to keep opponents from scoring while their bats provided explosive offense good enough to advance them through the Phil Lawler Summer Classic and into the final eight.

But while the pitching and defense showed up Monday night at Benedictine University, the bats fell silent in a 3-1 loss against Libertyville and once again in a 5-4, 11-inning loss to Glenbrook North, effectively ending Huntley's summer season.

It was ace right-hander Eric Luecht who started Huntley in the right direction against Libertyville as he cruised through the first four innings without allowing a hit and keeping the Libertyville hitters off balance with devastating breaking and off-speed pitches that complimented a heavy fastball. 

Huntley scored its only run in the bottom half of the first and it looked like it would be enough the way Luecht was throwing but the Libertyville hitters caught up to him the second time through the order.

"Eric was tremendous tonight," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He deserved better. We struggled offensively but he pitched a great game."

Luecht went all seven innings and threw 112 pitches while scattering six hits and striking out 10. He walked three. At one point spanning two innings, he struck out six batters in a row then issued a walk. But he picked off the runner at first base end the inning.

"I'm always really fired up before games and I used that a bit," Luecht said, "but for some reason we all just got a little tired and I lost some control."

Libertyville scored two runs in the fifth and added another insurance run in the sixth due to some tough hops in the infield that caught some players in the shoulder and face because of the dry ground.

Second baseman Troy Cantu made several spectacular plays despite the bad hops but said it was rough.

"I look at it like we're out here to help each other," he said. "You just have to pick each other up and move on and get the next out."

Since Huntley lost, it played another game at 8 p.m. against Glenbrook North. Again, the Red Raiders pitching was superb as Nick Constantino went seven innings and scattered seven hits while striking out eight but he left with the game tied.

Mason Martin entered in relief with the game tied. Huntley scored a run in the ninth to go ahead but gave up the lead in the bottom half and the score stayed tied 4-4 until the bottom half of the 11th, when Matt Alexander hit a game-winning triple for Glenbrook North to win a game that lasted for more than three hours.

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