JOLIET – Huntley, to a man, thought it had one more amazing rally within.
“I thought we were going to do it again,” shortstop Jordan Goldstein said. “I thought we were going to come through with it, we came up just short.”
The Red Raiders fought back with two runs in the top of the seventh inning. Hunter Rumachik stole second base with two outs while Zach Model, who had hit the ball hard three times, stood in the left-handed batter’s box, hoping to send him home.
This time, Plainfield North sophomore Eben Heine won the battle, getting a 2-2 pitch past Model for a strikeout to cap a 4-3 Tigers’ victory in the Class 4A state tournament championship game Saturday at Joliet Route 66 Stadium.
Huntley (33-7) may look back at some earlier missed scoring opportunities, but will never be faulted for guts or effort.
“I’m so happy with our guys fighting back,” Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski said. “You know what? You have a runner on second base and the winning run at the plate in a state championship game, you can’t ask for much more.”
Plainfield North (29-7-1) got into the title game on senior Brady Miller’s pitching performance in a 7-3 win over Sandburg in Friday’s semifinal. On Saturday, Miller saved three runs with two standout catches in left field, then hit a solo homer for the winning margin in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“I got a good hitter’s count (3-1) and I told myself, ‘Don’t miss it,’ ” Miller said. “I got a good piece of it. I just came here and wanted to compete, help my team win the best I could.”
Miller took away two runs tracking down Hunter Rumachik's fly ball on the warning track in the third. He saved another diving to rob Model of a double in the sixth.
Huntley fell behind 2-0 in the second, but pitcher Nick Laxner battled to keep the Raiders in the game.
Huntley scored in the third inning, but had inning-ending double plays in the second and fourth and left six men on base in the first four innings.
“That was a heck of a game, heck of a team,” Huntley center fielder Joey Petryniec said. “We gave it our all, tried to (come back) again. We came up a little short, but we battled to the last out. That’s all we can ask for.”
It was the Raiders' second trip to the state tournament. Jakubowski's team finished finished fourth in 2010.
“This is a great season,” Goldstein said. “Falling short against the state champions, Crystal Lake South, a year ago, that really hit us hard. We wanted to come back and make a big splash. It means a lot for us to come out here and experience this. It’s a great feeling. Second place in state is not too bad.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Kamrin Hoffmann, Huntley, sr., C
Hoffmann was 2 for 4 with a double in the top of the seventh that was key in the Red Raiders’ two-run inning. Jordan Goldstein scored on Matt Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly and courtesy runner Michael Boland scored on Hunter Rumachik’s infield single.
33: School record for victories set by Huntley this season.
AND ANOTHER THING...
If Huntley had won, it would have been the school’s first team state championship in any sport and it would have been coach Andy Jakubowski’s 300th career win at the school.
Plainfield North 4, Huntley 3
Huntley 001 000 2 - 3 10 0
Plainfield North 020 011 x – 4 6 2
WP: Nic Cerrato, 4-0 (4IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K). Save: Eben Heine. LP: Nick Laxner, 7-2 (5.1IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 2K).
Top hitters – Huntley: Kamrin Hoffmann 2-4 (2B), Matt Rodriguez 0-2 (RBI, SF), Hunter Rumachik 2-4 (RBI, SB), A.J. Henkle 2-4, Joey Petryniec 2-3 (R). Plainfield North: Brady Miller 1-2 (HR, RBI, 2R), Cameron Kissel 2-3 (2B, R), Cal Cangilla 1-3 (RBI), Sean Tillmon 1-2 (2B, R).