By Marty Maciaszek
Glenbrook South sectional
Hersey quickly went from celebrating its first Mid-Suburban League baseball title in 20 years Friday at Fremd to contemplating its next step across town in postseason play. And it won't be easy for the Huskies in what could be one of the state's toughest Class 4A regionals at Palatine and in a sport where seeds are often deceptive because of the X-factor on the mound.
Hersey, the No. 4 seed, does have the arms led by MSL East co-player of the year and Dartmouth-bound righty Mike Danielak (8-1) and Trevor Haas. But so does No. 14 Palatine, which has played well the last month, in Bradley-bound Eric Scheuermann and MSL West co-player of the year Kurt Becker for Wednesday. On Thursday, No. 5 Libertyville and faces one of the state's premier pitchers in Illinois State-bound Jack Landwehr (7-3) of No. 12 Prospect. Landwehr, the school's career leader in wins and strikeouts who has been performing under the watchful eyes of pro scouts, has had one subpar outing all year with two 1-0 losses.
In the Stevenson regional, No. 15 Buffalo Grove will try to beat No. 18 Wheeling for a third time Monday and a shot at No. 2 Glenbrook North on Wednesday. The seventh-seeded hosts face No. 10 Rolling Meadows, which is led by Rollins-bound IF-P Matt Hendricks but was hurt when it went a stretch without Villanova-bound SS-P Eric Lowe because of injury. At Mundelein, No. 9 Fremd has relied heavily on the pitching of Jack Andersen, Lee Breitzman and Jason English and will have a tough Thursday test with No. 8 Lake Zurich. Waiting is top-seeded Mundelein, the North Suburban champion which has overcome an arm injury to Iowa-bound Ryan Borucki. Glenbrook South is seeded third at the Warren regional with No. 6 Carmel.
No. 10 Schaumburg would like to postpone the retirement of 606-game winner Paul Groot as long as possible and give him a chance to take part in the sectional games at the Schaumburg Boomers Stadium (formerly Alexian Field). And the Saxons certainly have that capability with seven wins in their last eight for their 20th season with 20 wins and the pitching of Evansville-bound Pat Bellinger, Matt Brancato and Max Paolicchi and solid SS Thomas Byrne. They open at No. 6 York on Thursday with No. 2 St. Charles North waiting for Monday's winner between No. 18 West Chicago and No. 15 Conant.
No. 14 Hoffman Estates has also emerged as a dangerous threat going into Wednesday's game at No. 3 St. Charles East. The Hawks have climbed above .500 with Holy Cross-bound SS-closer Kevin Grudzinski, Truman State-bound 2B-P Mark Roberts, junior P Jimmy Ward and power-hitting sophomore Ethan Bloom. Top-seeded Geneva is at the Lake Park regional and No. 4 Wheaton North hosts a regional with No. 5 Addison Trail.
In a sectional where the regional participants were predetermined, South Elgin and Barrington will try to recapture their early-season magic that got them the top two seeds at Larkin. The Broncos have nearly tripled their win total from a year ago with P Frank Waliczek and junior C Ryan Lidge. Huntley, the third seed in its regional behind Crystal Lake South and Jacobs, has picked up its play the last two weeks behind junior 3B and Nebraska recruit Bryce Only. Cary-Grove, with Richmond-bound SS Michael Vilardo and Grant and speedy Jake Ring got the top two seeds at the McHenry regional, but the hosts strong pitching makes them dangerous if they can scratch out a few runs. Perennial power Rockford Boylan is top-seeded in the Machesney Park Harlem regional.
Fifth-seeded Leyden and sixth-seeded Elk Grove started strong before having midseason lulls. Angel Sanchez has won 8 games for Leyden, which opens Thursday against Taft at Niles West, and could be a threat to the fourth-seeded host Wolves and Michigan-bound IF Kevin Ross. Elk Grove and Illinois State-bound OF-P Jack Czeszewski open at Loyola against the hosts Thursday with New Trier seeded third. Ninth-seeded Maine West hosts No. 8 Lane Tech on Thursday looking for a shot at No. 1 Maine South and No. 2 Oak Park-River Forest hosts the other regional.
Grayslake Central sectional
Third-seeded St. Viator hopes its rugged schedule pays off as Gunnar Kay comes off a 3-hit shutout Saturday. The Lions open Wednesday at Deerfield with the winner of CICS/Northtown and North Chicago and Lake Forest is seeded sixth. Top-seed Grayslake Central has become a perennially solid program under Troy Whalen and won the Fox Valley Fox division title and No. 2 Vernon Hills won the North Suburban Prairie crown behind the pitching of Pat Crowley and Tyler Feece.