CRYSTAL LAKE – Huntley third baseman Jeff Heinrich utilized some quick thinking, along with his quick feet, to thwart Crystal Lake South’s best offensive opportunity.
With the bases loaded in the third inning of a scoreless tie, Heinrich saw that right-hander Nick Laxner was about to deliver an offspeed pitch to the Gators’ Ryan Parquette.
“I was trying to anticipate them pulling the ball and I saw and reacted,” Heinrich said.
Heinrich dived to his glove side to snatch the line drive, then stepped on third base to double up South’s Scott Skwarek.
Huntley escaped any damage that inning, then managed one run in each of the next two innings to hand South a 2-0 loss in their Fox Valley Conference baseball game Monday at The Swamp. The victory leaves Huntley (26-5 overall, 18-3 FVC) one game up on South (26-4, 17-4) with three remaining games.
“That gave us a huge confidence booster and pushed the momentum our way,” Heinrich said. “This was the best defensive series, so far, that we’ve played in. Both teams were making good plays, left and right.”
The entire series was a struggle for both teams offensively, with six total runs scored in three games. The Red Raiders finally got their first hit in the fourth off South’s Riley Tannhauser and broke through. Adam Smylie walked and moved to third on Joe Rizzo's single. Brad Maurer then hit a sinking line drive to right field that Griffin Bright dived to catch. Bright fired home, but it was too late to catch Smylie.
Noak Konie singled with two outs in the fifth to score Joe Boland with the game’s other run.
“Offensively, we’re not doing what we need to do, but pitching and defense keeps you in ballgames and we’ll find a way to scratch up runs,” Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski said. “That’s exactly what happened today.”
Huntley backed Laxner with two other double plays, one in the first and another to end the fourth with a runner on third base.
“I was pitching to contact, trying to locate my pitches and they got on top of it,” Laxner said. “I left some balls up and they got some good hits. That (play to Heinrich) was kind of nerve-wracking, but Jeff’s always there. He’s a good player.”
Laxner and Konie, who threw the final two innings for his fifth save, allowed only one runner in the last three innings.
Huntley finishes with its three-game series against Prairie Ridge, while South faces Cary-Grove for three.
“These were three very good high school baseball games,” Gators coach Brian Bogda said. “Two good teams facing each other at the end of the year. We just didn’t have that timely hit to put a run or two across. That was a hard-hit ball (by Parquette), Heinrich made a great play.”
Huntley, Sr., CF
Maurer drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field in the fourth inning. Crystal Lake South right fielder Griffin Bright dived to catch the sinking line drive, but could not throw home in time to get pinch runner Chris Costantino.
6: The total of runs scored by Huntley and South combined in their three-game series.
AND ANOTHER THING...
The game was filled with superb defensive plays, with South’s best effort coming from shortstop Kory Olsen deep in the hole to get Matt Rodriguez’s ground ball, backhanded, then fire a one-hopper to first baseman Noah Tyrrell for an inning-ending, run-saving out.
Huntley 2, Crystal Lake South 0
Huntley 000 110 0 - 2 6 0
CL South 000 000 0 - 0 7 0
WP: Nick Laxner, 4-1 (5IP, 6H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 2K). Save: Noah Konie (5). LP: Riley Tannhauser (4IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 0K).
Top hitters–Huntley: Konie 1-4 (RBI), B. Maurer 0-2 (RBI), Smylie 1-2 (R), Boland 1-2 (R), Goldstein 1-1. CL South: Bright 2-3, Tyrrell 2-3, Wolski 1-2 (2B), Skwarek 1-2, Chubb 1-2.