After watching for seven innings, Highland Park sophomore David Joseph figured he knew just what to do if he got his chance.
The baby-faced Joseph, who has never shaved, got his chance for the 13th-seeded Giants and came through like a veteran.
The Giants had runners at the corners with two outs in the top of the eighth inning in the championship game of Saturday's Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional against top-seeded Mundelein.
"I was watching the pitcher and he was throwing strikes," Joseph said. "He had a tendency to throw a first-pitch strike, and I just went up there with the mind set to hit the ball hard."
Joseph took the first pitch he saw from Mundelein reliever Mitchell Schulewitz and drilled it to deep center for a bases-clearing triple that started a four-run eighth. Highland Park then survived a bases-loaded bottom half to stun the top-seeded Mustangs 7-3 and earn its first sectional title since 1969.
Afterward, Joseph earned the customary shaving cream to the face.
"I wouldn't have gotten to this point without my teammates," Joseph said as he wiped away the shaving cream. "Adam (Kaplan) was unbelievable and Jake (Rubin) pitched great."
Highland Park (20-19) will face Evanston sectional champion Oak Park-River Forest, a 10-8 winner over Maine South, Monday in the Rockford supersectional.
Mundelein (34-5) saw its 13-game winning streak come to an end.
"It's always nice to get to your 20th win, which is a testament to a good year," Highland Park coach Eddie Pieczynski said. "It just took us a little longer to get here, but with that 20in, I guess we can say we have had quite a year."
The Giants took a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a pair of runs coming after two out off Iowa-bound Mundelein starter Ryan Borucki. RBI singles from Christian Biondi and Kaplan helped Highland Park regain the lead.
From there, Rubin was dominant. The lefty kept the Mustangs at bay, allowing only one base runner over the next three innings. Rubin allowed just 3 hits over 7 complete.
"We knew with Rubin we were going to have to battle up and down the lineup," said Mundelein coach Todd Parola. "We hit some balls hard at people, but he just seemed to do enough, and you have to give him credit."
Mundelein started to finally solve Rubin in the sixth inning. An 11-pitch walk by Chris Maranto started an inning in which the Mustangs didn't hit a ball out of the infield. With two out and runners at second and third, Borucki's hard groundball to the right side of the infield scored Maranto, and the Mustangs had pulled even.
"I thought getting a little later in the game we started to get to (Rubin) some," Parola said. "That last out in the seventh, Maranto just missed getting one out of the park. But sometimes that's how it goes."
Even after the 4-run outburst by Highland Park in the top of the eighth, Mundelein still had its chances. With two out, Schulewitz hit a grounder to short that took a funny hop, loading the bases. But Highland Park reliever Bret Shimanovsky got Zach Osisek to fly out to right to end the game.