ST. CHARLES – Playing for the fourth time in four days and on the heels of two straight extra-inning games, it was natural to wonder what kind of pitching the Crystal Lake South baseball team had left.
The Gators had junior left-hander Timmy Siesennop, who turned out to be plenty.
Siesennop pitched the Gators to a 4-0 win Thursday against Batavia in the championship game of the St. Charles East Regional. Crystal Lake South (18-5-3) advances to the Phil Lawler Summer Classic Elite Eight and will face Downers Grove South or Hinsdale South at 1 p.m. Monday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
After his team threatened to no avail in the first couple of innings against Siesennop, Bulldogs coach Matt Holm sensed adjusting to the 5-foot-11 southpaw's curveball could become problematic.
"I walked over and I said, 'If he throws one more fastball, they're not very smart – you guys are going to have to prove that you can hit the curveball,' " Holm said. "And there were only a couple that we put in play hard. He did a real nice job."
Siesennop pitched sparingly for the Gators' varsity team in the spring, spending most of his time at the sophomore level. Gators coach Brian Bogda said "he'll certainly be in the mix this spring."
"I had [a sharp curve] last year, sophomore year, I had it pretty well, too, and it's only gotten better with the coaches helping me out," Siesennop said.
Batavia (18-7-1) was on the verge of taking the lead in the top of the first when leadoff man Jimmy Roach singled, was sacrificed to second base by Sean Townsend and then tried to score on Nick Rogalski's single up the middle.
But Gators center fielder Collin Chubb made an excellent throw home, and catcher Nick Van Witzenburg applied the tag in plenty of time to keep Roach from scoring.
"I saw the outfield was really bouncy and I tried to get it on one hop," said Chubb, who was hit by a pitch in each of his first two at-bats. "I saw [first baseman Derek Bulger] was out there for my cut, so I just tried to throw the ball right through him and one-bounced it to home, and we got him."
Siesennop allowed four of Batavia's five hits in the first two innings and kept the Bulldogs hitless during the final 3 1/3 innings of his complete game.
South had no big innings against Batavia right-hander Eric Huizinga, but the Gators scratched single runs in the first, second, third and fifth innings to steadily pull away.
"We didn't just get complacent and happy with the one- or two-run lead, because earlier on this week, we played a 12-inning game after sitting on a 2-0 lead [against Oswego East], and that wasn't a lot of fun staying up that late to play," Bogda said.
The team's third run came when South took advantage of a concentration lapse by Batavia's defense. With runners on first and third and two outs, South pinch-runner John Smerecky dashed home and scored after John Constantino intentionally extended a run-down long enough for Smerecky to cross home.
"What's embarrassing about that is that's one of ours," Holm said. "I mean, that's what we do. And the funny thing is we work on it ourselves a lot, and we just fell asleep. I think it's probably the only time certainly in the last two weeks where we've fallen asleep, and they took advantage of it."
Van Witzenburg went 2 for 2 with an RBI single and sacrifice bunt, while left fielder Michael Avella was 2 for 3 with a double for the Gators.
South earned its second summer Elite Eight berth in three years.
"It's awesome," Siesennop said. "I've never been in anything like this before. Just having the opportunity to go with these guys down to state is a huge accomplishment for our team."