Offensive powerhouse Huntley was averaging 10.3 runs per game until Jacobs right-hander Evan Blunk blanked the top-ranked Red Raiders 1-0 Tuesday.
Blunk (2-2) changed speeds and locations and used his curveball to keep Huntley off balance throughout a masterful 2-hit shutout. He struck out 6 and issued a lone walk to outduel right-handed senior Bryce Only (3-3), who limited the damage from 6 walks and 4 hits by striking out 8 Golden Eagles in 6 innings.
“They’re probably one of the best teams offensively,” Blunk said of Huntley (17-3, 10-3 Fox Valley Valley), which leads with three Division-I signees atop the batting order. “It just felt good to get that win. I’ve been hearing the scores they’ve been putting on people.”
“It was a well-pitched game on both sides,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “It came down to who executed the best and Jacobs did. They deserved to win.”
Jacobs (15-6, 7-4) scored the game’s only run in the second inning. Senior Connor Conzelman drew a leadoff walk and Joe Rizzuto singled ahead of No. 7 hitter Danny Vandewalker. He missed two sacrifice bunt attempts but redeemed himself with a line-drive, opposite-field single to right. Jacobs coach Jamie Murray originally held Conzelman at third, but sent him to the plate when the ball was bobbled by the right fielder.
A lone run was all Blunk and the Jacobs defense needed. He retired the side in order three times and did not allow a hit until Colin Lyman doubled to open the fourth inning. However, Lyman was thrown out in a rundown after he attempted to advance on Mark Skonieczny’s flyball to shallow right field. Lyman was denied by a strong throw to third from Jacobs right fielder Joe Rizzuto.
“I knew he was fast so I had to get it off pretty quick,” said Rizzuto, who recorded his second outfield assist in 3 games.
Jakubowski took the blame for what he said was a communication mix-up on a windy day.
“It was my fault,” he said. “I yelled out to bluff (tagging up) to draw a throw. I didn’t use my hands, though, and it was hard to hear.” Huntley mounted a final challenge to Blunk in the seventh inning. Only drew walk and cleanup hitter Tyler Albright was plunked by a curveball on the knee, putting the winning run aboard with one out.
A Matt Sullivan flyball to right field gave Huntley runners at the corners with two outs, but Blunk induced a chopper to third baseman Jon Berndt off the bat of Tommy Kiriakopoulos on a 3-2 count. Berndt threw across the diamond to complete the shutout.
“I was getting a little shaky up there,” said Blunk, who threw 93 pitches, “but I just buckled down and got him out.”
Jacobs had dropped 3 out of 4 games entering the contest, but the victory drew the Golden Eagles within a game of Huntley, McHenry and Cary-Grove in the division loss column.
“I’m proud of this team, but I’m really proud of Evan Blunk right now,” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “That is a good lineup. I mean, they’ve been smashing the ball. And they have good pitching, too. Evan just kept them off balance, and that’s a good lesson for our pitchers.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.