ALGONQUIN – McHenry flirted with losing a game in which starter Joe Kaminski struck out 10 of the first 11 batters he faced and allowed one runner through four innings.
The Warriors committed three errors in the fifth, which led to Jacobs scoring five runs and grabbing the lead. McHenry tried to remain upbeat after that frustrating turn of events.
“It was one of those games that you almost felt like this could be the difference in a good season or a bad season,” McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler said.
While the bottom of the fifth was as ugly as it gets, the Warriors’ top of the seventh was a thing of beauty.
Eight of the first 10 batters got hits. They pushed across six runs, held Jacobs in the bottom of the inning and came away with a 9-5 victory to even their Fox Valley Conference series on Monday.
“We gave up a few runs we probably shouldn’t have a couple innings before,” first baseman Mark Winter said. “We kept our heads in the game and hit the ball hard when we needed to.”
No one was happier in the seventh than Winter, who committed two of the three errors that led to four unearned runs in the fifth, then ripped a two-run double to tie the score at 5-5 in the seventh.
“It was real good to have that opportunity to make up for it a little bit,” Winter said.
Winter has been one of McHenry’s best run producers while hitting in the middle of the lineup.
“Mark makes a couple errors in that inning, then he comes up and hits a double,” Rockweiler said. “Nothing fazed that guy. He’s the same kid, no matter what’s going on.”
Nolan Shannon led off the inning with a single and Jake Evans doubled with one out. Winter’s double scored them and Winter advanced to third on an error, then scored the go-ahead run on Cam Begley’s sacrifice fly to right field.
McHenry (8-2, 3-1) was not finished. Sean Richards knocked in a run, and Carter Foat brought home two.
Richards then pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
“We could not lose this game,” said Shannon, who was 4 for 5 with a double, homer and two RBIs. “It was a big deal for us. We all knew we could get it done. We just wanted to win it, and we did.”
Jacobs (5-6, 2-2) had put only three balls in play in the first four innings. Kaminski struck out 11 in 4 2/3 innings, allowed three hits, one earned run and two walks.
The Golden Eagles’ rally started with two outs when Max Bielawski blooped a double down the right-field line. Six more Jacobs’ batters reached base before reliever Jacob McLean struck out Luke Holub with runners on second and third to end the inning.
“One of the best two-out nightmares (for your opponent) you can ever talk about,” Eagles coach Jamie Murray said. “Our guys were resilient, even though Joe was dominating them. I love the way we fought back and competed. They gave everything they had.”
Jacobs put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Kyle Washington lined a shot headed toward left field, but Shannon, playing third base, leaped to snag the ball and threw to first for a game-ending double play.
“I leaped up and lost it in the sun and hoped I caught it,” Shannon said. “I did and fired it to first. It puts us in a good spot to come back and try to win the series (Tuesday in McHenry).”
STAR OF THE GAME
Nolan Shannon, McHenry, jr., 3B
Shannon was 4 for 5 with a home run, a double and two RBIs, and he started the winning six-run rally in the top of the seventh with a single. He also ended the game with a leaping catch on a line drive and throw to first for a double play.
10: Strikeouts among the first 11 batters faced by McHenry starter Joe Kaminski.
AND ANOTHER THING...
Jacobs center fielder Daniel Klein was the only player among the first 12 batters to put a ball in play against Kaminski. He flew out to center field in the first, then ripped a first-pitch fastball to right field with two outs in the fourth to break up a perfect game.
McHenry 9, Jacobs 5
McHenry 000 210 6 – 9 12 3
Jacobs 000 050 0 – 5 4 2
WP: Jacob McLean, 1-0 (1.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1K, 1BB). LP: Krzysztof Solis, 0-1 (1.2IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 2K, 2BB).
Top hitters–McHenry: Carter Foat 1-4 (2RBIs), Nolan Shannon 4-5 (2B, HR, 2RBIs, 2R), Jake Evans 2-3 (2B, 2R), Mark Winter 3-4 (3RBIs), Sean Richards 1-3 (2B, RBI). Jacobs: Daniel Klein 1-3 (SB), Kyle Washington 1-4 (2RBIs), Andrew Balkcom 1-3 (RBI), Max Bielawski 1-2 (2B, R).