McHenry, sr., 1B-P
Honkala helped the Warriors to a 5-1 week heading into Tuesday’s home game against Huntley, going 10 for 21 at the plate and knocking in seven runs. He also threw five innings or relief. He had multiple RBIs in three games.
Northwest Herald Power Rankings
1. McHenry (19-7): The Warriors played as if they didn’t appreciate being dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 last week, winning five out of six games to return to the top spot.
2. Huntley (19-5): The Red Raiders tightened the FVC race with a 3-2 victory over McHenry on Monday.
3. Prairie Ridge (14-11): The Wolves took the first two games of their series with Jacobs. Their week could have been better, but McHenry pulled out one game with some sparkling defense.
4. Jacobs (13-8-1): The Golden Eagles have lost their past three FVC games, which does not put them out of the race yet but narrows their margin for error in their last 10 league games.
5. Cary-Grove (13-8-1): The Trojans have lost four of their past five. They need to get more offense going, as the pitching usually has been solid.
Family night: The good thing with Saturday night’s game was Palatine coach Paul Belo finally got to see his son Bryan play, which is a rarity. The only problem was that Bryan was in the other dugout, as the Pirates played Jacobs at Elgin’s Trout Park.
In the first of what could be three regular-season meetings between the father and son, Jacobs won, 4-2, and Bryan ended the game with a defensive gem, going toward the hole at shortstop and firing a strike to first base.
Paul Belo has worked countless hours with his son on baseball. He coached Bryan with the Pro Player Canes last summer, the first time he was his head coach. But Saturday was a little strange.
“It was a great experience,” said Bryan Belo, a sophomore shortstop. “We had some talks in the house about beating each other. There was one thing he said when he was putting on a bunt play, and I picked it up right away. That was kind of cool.”
Paul Belo commended his son for his intuitive nature. At the same time, he had to think of his son as an opponent and attack him at the plate. Debbie Belo usually videos Bryan’s at-bats, so on their way to daughter Taylor Belo’s softball games with Augustana College on Sunday, Paul helped Bryan break down his at-bats from their game.
“There’s a dad side and a coaching side,” Paul Belo said. “There was a confluence of different emotions and feelings. I’m his dad and his own personal coach. It was tough to manage. It really was. He punctuated the game with a beautiful play. He’s always taken pride in his defense.”
Paul Belo thought his team was about to have runners on first and second that could have tied the game. Then he remembered all the hours he had hit his son fungos.
“We could have had the winning run at the plate,” Paul Belo said. “We worked on all those scenarios. We’ve worked on the nonroutine plays.”
During the postgame handshake line, the Jacobs shortstop and Palatine coach took a little extra time when they met.
“I gave him a big, old hug,” Bryan Belo said. “It was like the feud was over, but we have two more battles in my high school career.”
Good use: McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler had valid reasons for not using Owen Patzin at pitcher before this season. First, Patzin’s glove work at shortstop is as good as it gets. Second, the Warriors’ pitching staff was deep, and third, Rockweiler didn’t feel as if they had anyone else to play shortstop if Patzin was not there.
This season, Rockweiler is comfortable putting sophomore Nolan Shannon at shortstop on the days it’s Patzin’s turn to pitch. Patzin has thrown 22 innings and has a 3-0 record, a 1.27 ERA with 25 strikeouts and three walks. His WHIP is 0.91.
Patzin threw a two-hitter Saturday at Huntley for a 2-1 win when he struck out seven and induced numerous weak ground-ball outs.
“He never got a chance before because we didn’t really have anybody (to play shortstop),” Rockweiler said. “Now, we have Nolan to play short and it gives us a chance to pitch Owen. It’s working out.”
Warriors on top: McHenry had a really good weekend when it held off Prairie Ridge on Friday, then had Jacobs lose to Hampshire. And on Saturday, the Warriors beat Huntley and Jacobs lost to Prairie Ridge.
With Huntley and Jacobs as their closest pursuers in the FVC race, McHenry widened its lead a bit.
“It’s exciting. It’s definitely the most fun season I’ve had so far,” Patzin said. “We’re doing good, that’s all you can ask for.”
What to Watch
McHenry vs. Jacobs: The series starts Thursday at Jacobs, then moves to McHenry Saturday and back to Jacobs on Monday. Jacobs desperately needs a series win to gain some ground.
Crystal Lake South vs. Huntley: The Red Raiders are the defending FVC champs and are right behind McHenry in the FVC standings. They play Thursday at Huntley, Saturday at South and Monday back at Huntley.