Huntley picks off Cary-Grove for share of FVC Valley baseball lead

HUNTLEY – Huntley pitcher Adam Kalish had retired 14 straight batters Saturday before Cary-Grove threatened to even the score in the sixth inning with the Red Raiders holding a two-run lead.

With one out, C-G’s Jason Barrett and Dean Christakes reached base and stole third and second base, respectively, before the Trojans’ Andrew Splitt drove in Barrett with a sacrifice fly to deep right field that advanced Christakes to third. After a hit batsmen, Kalish threw over quickly to third and caught Christakes cheating off the bag in a bang-bang play to end C-G’s final scoring threat in Huntley's 5-3 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division victory.

Kalish jumped up and down and pumped his fists in celebration as he ran off the field and into the home team's dugout.

“I knew it was coming,” said Kalish, who started the season as a closer. “The coaches are always pulling out plays to try to get us [pitchers] out of danger. They saw me struggling and [C-G] had a good hitter at the plate.

“[The coaches] didn’t want to risk a muffed ball or a base hit, so they said, ‘We might as well try it,’ and it worked out. We practice it all the time and it was executed perfectly.”

Huntley added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a safety squeeze by third baseman Johnny Nugent, and Kalish sealed the win with a one-two-three seventh, including strikeouts of the final two batters.

With the win, Huntley (18-6 overall, 11-4 FVC Valley) move into a three-way tie for first place in the FVC Valley with C-G and Jacobs. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Trojans, who defeated Huntley, 15-5, in six innings Friday.

“[Kalish] has a closer mentality,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “He was our closer last year and for the first half of this year, so having guys on base doesn’t faze him.

“He doesn’t feel any pressure out there. I feel confident he can work his way out of any trouble.”

Kalish (4-0) struck out six and walked two in his complete-game victory, holding the Trojans (16-8, 11-4) to three hits and one extra-base hit. C-G scored two runs in the first inning on a two-out, two-RBI double by Wyatt Mascarella, but the Trojans were held to one hit over the final six.

The Raiders responded to C-G’s pair of first-inning runs with two of their own in the bottom half, getting an RBI single from Tommy Kiriakopoulos and an RBI groundout from Jacob Ciskowski. Kiriakopoulos then gave Huntley its first lead in the third with a two-out RBI single that landed just out of the reach of center fielder Larkin Hanselmann.

“[Huntley] played much better than us,” C-G coach Don Sutherland said. “Their guy pitched a gem. They got stolen bases when they needed, they got bunts down when they needed, and when that happens you win games.”

Splitt (5-2) was charged with the loss, allowing four earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and four walks. 

Brandon Altergott scored two runs and Matt Sullivan added an RBI single for the Raiders.

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