Baseball

High school baseball: Huntley looks for another long run as regionals begin

Huntley’s Hunter Rumachik avoids the tag by Cary-Grove catcher Drew Stengren to score April 6 in Cary. Huntley and Cary-Grove are among the local Class 4A teams that begin regional play this week.
Huntley’s Hunter Rumachik avoids the tag by Cary-Grove catcher Drew Stengren to score April 6 in Cary. Huntley and Cary-Grove are among the local Class 4A teams that begin regional play this week.

Huntley’s past two baseball seasons ended at the hands of the Class 4A state champions.

Crystal Lake South knocked out the Red Raiders in the 2017 McHenry Sectional championship game on its way to the title. Last season, the Raiders fell to Plainfield North, 4-3, in a thrilling state title game that ended with the tying run at second base.

With three consecutive regional championships, along with two sectional titles, Huntley knows a thing or two about postseason baseball. The Red Raiders, who shared the Fox Valley Conference championship with Prairie Ridge, are poised for another postseason run as Classes 3A and 4A regionals start Monday around the state.

Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski’s teams are 114-37 with four FVC titles over the past four seasons.

“Pitching and defense are No. 1, then getting timely hitting and executing when you can,” Jakubowski said. “You have to execute and get guys in. That’s kind of been our model; that’s what we try to do. You’re going to see everybody’s No. 1 or 2 [pitchers], and you have to be able to execute when you can.”

Prairie Ridge (25-9) pulled off an impressive sweep of Cary-Grove in the final week to finish as FVC co-champion with Huntley. The Wolves looked solid in pitching, defense and hitting and held the Trojans to two runs in three games. They, too, have the look of a team that could continue playing for a while.

“It’s the best time of the year to play our best baseball,” Wolves designated hitter Keegan Garis said. “We’re playing really good right now in all three phases. I’m so proud of this team, what we’ve gone through and how we persevered.”

CLASS 4A

Huntley (25-8) is the top seed in the DeKalb Regional. Jakubowski is leaning toward going with Eli Paplanus, then Kyle Maurer in their two regional games.

“We’re playing a lot better defense over the last week-and-a-half,” Jakubowski said. “We’re trying to progress and get better offensively. I like the direction of the team right now.”

C-G (20-13), the No. 2 seed in the Grant Regional, was leading the FVC until it lost nine of its past 12 games. The Trojans still are a threat with their top two pitchers, Quinn Priester and Jack Wenninger. Priester is a potential first-round pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft on June 3.

“We’re doing everything we can to turn this around,” Priester said. “We’re bringing basketball hoops to the game, wearing different socks. We’re trying everything. We’re trying to find that one game where we start having fun again, playing like friends when we were 12.”

Hampshire (17-13) is the No. 3 seed in the Harlem Regional, one spot behind Hononegah. McHenry (21-13) is the No. 4 seed in the Dundee-Crown Regional, where Barrington is the top seed.

CLASS 3A

Prairie Ridge returned several key players from a team that lost the Chicago Lake View Sectional final to Antioch, 8-7, in heartbreaking fashion. The Wolves are the No. 1 seed in the Grayslake Central Sectional and host a regional. They could see No. 7 Antioch in the regional championship game.

Wolves coach Glen Pecoraro is thrilled with the way his team is playing, particularly after they beat C-G, 4-0, on Thursday with Priester on the mound.

“We just went up against a draft pick,” Pecoraro said. “If that doesn’t prepare you for the tournament, I don’t know what will. How many teams can say they saw 92, 93 mph with a breaking ball to prepare for the tournament? That should help us.”

Crystal Lake South (20-10) is the No. 4 seed in the Grayslake Central Sectional and hosts a regional in which it is the highest seed. The Gators head into the postseason having won nine of their past 10 games.

Richmond-Burton (16-14) is the Kishwaukee River Conference runner-up and the No. 8 seed from the Grayslake Central Sectional. The Rockets also host a regional in which Carmel (3) is the highest seed.

CLASS 4A SCHEDULE

McHenry Sectional

Petersen Park

Wed., May 29

Game 1: Winner DeKalb Regional vs. Winner Grant Regional, 4 p.m.

Game 2: Winner Dundee-Crown Regional vs. Winner Harlem Regional, 6:30 p.m.

Sat., June 1

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 11 a.m.

Harlem Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (8) Guilford at (6) Rockford Auburn, 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (2) Hononegah vs. Winner Game 1, 4:30 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (3) Hampshire vs. (5) Harlem, 4:30 p.m.

Fri., May 24

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 4:30 p.m.

Grant Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (7) Crystal Lake Central at (6) Jacobs, 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (2) Cary-Grove vs. Winner Game 1, 4 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (3) Grant vs. (5) Streamwood, 4 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 11 a.m.

DeKalb Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (10) Jefferson at (9) Rockford East, 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (1) Huntley vs. Winner Game 1, 4:30 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (4) Belvidere North vs. (7) DeKalb, 4:30 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 11 a.m.

Dundee-Crown Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (10) Elgin at (9) Larkin (Trout Park), 5:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (1) Barrington vs. Winner Game 1, 4:30 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (4) McHenry vs. (8) Dundee-Crown, at 4:30 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 11 a.m.

CLASS 3A SCHEDULE

Grayslake Central Sectional

Wed., May 29

Game 1: Winner Prairie Ridge Regional vs. Winner Crystal Lake South Regional, 4:30 p.m.

Thu., May 30

Game 2: Winner Grayslake Central Regional vs. Winner Richmond-Burton Regional, 4:30 p.m.

Sat., June 1

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 11 a.m.

Crystal Lake South Regional

Tue., May 21

Game 1: (4) Crystal Lake South vs. (13) Johnsburg, 4 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (5) Vernon Hills vs. (12) Woodstock North, 4 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 11 a.m.

Richmond-Burton Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (19) Chicago CICS/Northtown at (14) Woodstock (Emricson Park), 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (3) Carmel vs. Winner Game 1, at 4 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (8) Richmond-Burton vs. (11) Marengo, 4 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 10 a.m.

Grayslake Central Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (18) Chicago Amundsen at (15) Harvard, 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (2) Grayslake Central vs. Winner Game 1, 4 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (6) Chicago Lake View vs. (10) Lakes, 4 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 11 a.m.

Prairie Ridge Regional

Mon., May 20

Game 1: (17) Chicago Northside at (16) Marian Central, 4:30 p.m.

Wed., May 22

Game 2: (1) Prairie Ridge vs. Winner Game 1, 4 p.m.

Thu., May 23

Game 3: (7) Antioch vs. (9) Wauconda, 4 p.m.

Sat., May 25

Game 4: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 11 a.m.

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