CRYSTAL LAKE – Huntley senior left fielder Kyle Maurer reached base safely all five times he stepped to the plate during his team's Fox Valley Conference game at Crystal Lake South on Saturday.
He reached on errors in his first two at-bats, singled in his third at-bat, then was hit by a pitch his fourth time up.
But it was Maurer's two-out RBI infield single in the top of the eighth that gave Huntley the lead for good – all part of a four-run inning that resulted in an important 7-3 victory for the Red Raiders.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Maurer chopped a weak grounder near the third-base line that Gators third baseman Ben Peltz tried to barehand, knowing it was his only chance to throw out Maurer. But he was unable to make the play, and the ball rolled under his hand, putting Huntley ahead, 4-3.
"As soon as the ball left my bat, I knew I had to bust it hard out of the batter's box," Maurer said. "I knew it was going to be a real close play if their third baseman came up with it."
Moments later, Maurer stole second, which was followed by a two-RBI single to right-center by cleanup hitter Michael Talesky, then an RBI single from Jason Peters. It gave Huntley (15-4, 9-2 FVC) three additional insurance runs.
It was the Red Raiders' third victory over the Gators (8-8, 4-8) this week. In all three games, Huntley rallied when it was tied or trailing to win. The Raiders sit atop the FVC standings, a game ahead of Prairie Ridge (8-3 FVC) and Cary-Grove (7-2 FVC).
"We've labeled ourselves 'the comeback kids' last year and this year," Maurer said. "We never feel like we're out of a game, and the label has kind of stuck with us."
It's a trend Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski has noticed, as well.
"One thing we take pride in is extending innings when we have two outs," Jakubowski said. "That mentality comes from our senior captains, their leadership, and our determination as a ballclub. Whenever we have a big two-out rally like we did late today, it can take a ton of momentum from the other team."
An equally big factor was the effort of Huntley senior relief pitcher Davis Pasco. He picked up the win and didn't allow a runner past first base during his four innings of work in relief of starter Jimmy Fairley, who allowed two earned runs on six hits and no walks in four innings. He struck out four.
"My game plan was to consistently work the outer half of the plate," Pasco said. "I saw their hitters were being a little overaggressive and trying to pull a lot of pitches. I knew by working the outer half, they'd roll over a lot of balls that resulted in weak grounders."
All three of the Gators' runs came in the third inning, courtesy of an RBI single from Evan Jewson, then a single to center by Henry Tipton that drove home a pair.
"I don't fault our kids' effort today," South coach Brian Bogda said. "They played hard. If we had one clutch hit or play here or there, that's a game that just as easily could've gone our way. We were right in the thick of things during every game this series."
South starter Jacob Bimbi went 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs, five hits and a walk. He struck out three.
"[Bimbi] came out because it was a pitch-count thing," Bogda said. "He gave us a solid effort and kept us ahead when he was in there."
STAR OF THE GAME
Davis Pasco, Huntley, sr., P
Pasco only allowed two base runners during his four innings of relief to earn a victory.
9: Huntley starters who reached base safely at least once
AND ANOTHER THING ...
With the victory, the Red Raiders swept the three-game season series against the Gators. They remain atop the Fox Valley Conference, a game ahead of Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove.
Huntley 7, Crystal Lake South 3, 8 innings
Huntley 010 110 04 – 7 1 2 4
Crystal Lake South 003 000 00 – 3 8 2
WP: Pasco (4IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2K). LP: Fuentes (3.2IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 3K).
Top hitters–Huntley: Talesky 2-3 (2 RBI, BB), Peters 1-4 (2 RBI, BB), Maurer 2-4 (RBI), Tocmo 2-5 (RBI), Janke 1-3 (RBI). CL South: Tipton 1-4 (2 RBI), Jewson 1-4 (RBI), Hetherington 2-4 (Double), Gorken 1-3, Mannella 1-4.