Athlete of the Week
Matt Jachec, Hampshire, sr., P-3B
Jachec fired a one-hitter, striking out 10, as the Whip-Purs defeated Jacobs, 4-0, on Thursday. He threw 83 pitches for the complete game.
On Saturday, he homered and scored twice as the Whips beat Jacobs, 9-3.
Jachec, who will pitch at NCAA Division I Indiana State next year, also drove in a run Wednesday when the Whips fell to Crystal Lake South, 5-2.
Northwest Herald Power Rankings
1. Prairie Ridge (13-3): The Wolves came out on top with a couple of tough games against Crystal Lake Central. They have won six consecutive games and lead the Fox Valley Conference (7-1) by one game over Huntley.
2. Huntley (12-4): The Red Raiders bounced back from a 15-0 thumping at Cary-Grove to beat McHenry twice, 6-2 and 5-3. Kyle Maurer and Eli Paplanus had strong pitching performances.
3. Cary-Grove (9-4): The Trojans split their games with Crystal Lake South after they took a series from Huntley. They seem to be heating up at the plate.
4. Crystal Lake South (8-4): The Gators’ Christian Guzman threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings against C-G in a 3-1 win. They struggled to get good swings against C-G’s Quinn Priester on Saturday, but who doesn’t?
5. McHenry (9-5): The Warriors lost three games last week, two to Huntley and one to Antioch, but they are a team with solid pitching that has hit the ball hard.
Rolling Thunder: Prairie Ridge was not the only local team riding a six-game winning streak and leading its conference heading into the week. Woodstock North (7-5, 5-1 Kishwaukee River Conference) also had won its past six games.
The Thunder started this week with a half-game lead on Burlington Central in the KRC. North is 7-1 after starting the season 0-4.
“We try to take everything in stride and move forward rather than retaining any negative,” Thunder coach John Oslovich said.
After the Thunder’s 0-4 start, Oslovich said the players wanted to come to school early for extra swing work. It seems to have helped, as Oslovich pointed out that North has scored in eight of the last 12 innings after an opponent has scored.
Help has come from all sources for the Thunder.
“You could point to any player on my roster, and I can tell you three reasons why they helped us win a game in this stretch,” Oslovich said. “Someone always had the big hit, pitch or defensive play when we needed it.”
Remarkably, North is doing it with only two seniors on the roster, one of whom (Kyle Knauss) was lost to injury in the second game. Jacob Laha, who pitches, catches and plays third base, is the only other senior.
Laha had a complete-game shutout and five RBIs against Marengo. Sophomore shortstop Felipe De Avila had a triple, homer and six RBIs in Saturday’s 11-10 victory over Lakes.
North has a shot at the school record for victories (17-14 in 2017) and could contend for its first conference title in school history. Oslovich likes the Thunder’s focus on the next task, but said a KRC title possibility has been mentioned.
“It’s every team’s goal a the beginning of the year,” Oslovich said. “This year, we’ve put ourselves in a situation where we can achieve our goals, but we have some tough opponents coming up, and their goals are similar to ours.”
Mentor and student: When Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake Central played last week, it was the first of what could be many meetings for Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro and Central coach Andy Deain, who played and was an assistant coach at Prairie Ridge.
Deain, a 2005 Prairie Ridge graduate, was 22-1 as a high school pitcher and competed at Northern Illinois. He was Pecoraro’s pitching coach for several years until stepping down last year. He was hired at Central over the summer.
Deain said he looked at the game, which the Tigers lost, 3-2, on Dom Listi’s walk-off double in the seventh, just like any other.
“It’s fun. There’s so much respect there,” Pecoraro said. “I hope the kids at Central understand what they’re getting in head coach Andy Deain and the level of baseball he’s able to coach.”
Breaking out: Dundee-Crown had lost nine consecutive games and scored only once in its previous five games before it busted out in a big way Friday and Saturday.
The Chargers defeated Burlington Central, 11-0, on Friday, then beat Schaumburg, 11-1, on Saturday. The previous five losses came against FVC leaders Prairie Ridge and Huntley.
What to Watch
Prairie Ridge vs. McHenry: The FVC-leading Wolves start a three-game series with the Warriors at Petersen Park on Wednesday. Prairie Ridge hosts Thursday, and McHenry hosts again Saturday morning.
Burlington Central vs. Woodstock North: North leads the KRC to start this week, and the Rockets were one-half game back. North hosts Monday, Burlington hosts Tuesday, and then the series finale Thursday is back in Woodstock.