McHENRY – Leave it to the player who was in the game for one pitch to end Saturday night’s marathon between the McHenry and Johnsburg baseball teams.
McHenry pinch hitter Ryan Etzkorn was holding the scorebook when his name was called in the bottom of the 12th inning at Petersen Park. The left-handed hitting junior walked up and ripped a pitch just inside of third base to score Jack Glosson from second base for a 6-5 Fox Valley Conference crossover baseball victory.
The Warriors (4-1 overall, 1-0 FVC Valley Division) twice had been down to their final out, only to come up with clutch hits. Even Etzkorn figured himself as an unlikely hero.
“I just went up there kind of blank,” he said. “I was just trying to be calm and hit anything that was a strike. I thought it was going to go foul.”
The ball stayed a few inches inside the third-base line and Glosson easily scored the game-winner, after which Etzkorn was mobbed near first base.
“I was overcome with joy,” Etzkorn said. “That was a really good moment.”
Johnsburg (2-4, 0-1 FVC Fox) nearly had the game won in the seventh inning and again in the 11th. The Skyhawks got and RBI single from Alec Graef and a squeeze bunt RBI from B.J. Garcia for a 4-2 lead in the seventh.
McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler called on another junior lefty pinch hitter, Dylan Weston, who delivered a two-out, two-RBI double to tie the score.
The Skyhawks took another lead in the 11th on Garcia’s RBI single, but McHenry pitcher Robert Nagel came through with an RBI single to score Cody Freund from second and again tie the score at 5-5. “It was a little stressful,” said Nagel, who threw 5 2/3 innings of relief for the victory. “The people behind me were making plays. I just wanted to keep throwing strikes.”
Glosson led off the bottom of the 12th with a ground ball up the middle that Skyhawks shortstop Collin Ridout could not handle. Bobby Miller bunted Glosson to second and Etzkorn then ended the game at about 3 1/2 hours.
“We competed well,” Rockweiler said. “We didn’t play very well [Friday in an 11-5 loss to Hononegah]. Robert’s probably our No. 2, but we like using him in relief. He’s going to throw strikes and he doesn’t give in.”
Ridout struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings as Johnsburg’s starter and retired 13 batters at one point. Skyhawks coach Sam Lesniak pulled Ridout with one out in the seventh and two runners on. Nick Brengman and Kevin Kordik combined for the last five innings in relief. Kordik took the loss.
“We played outstanding,” Lesniak said. “For the pressure that was out there, I haven’t seen us handle that as well since I’ve been here. There were several big plays where our kids came through. They busted their tails and played exactly how we wanted to play. They just executed one more play than we did.”