Mundelein repeats as NSC champs
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There are plaques in the shape of baseballs, as well as the state of Illinois, plastered all over the press box at Mundelein.
They commemorate just about everything: trips downstate, regional championships, conference championships and 20-win seasons.
Now something new will be added to the press box, thanks to the events of Thursday afternoon.
Surprisingly, the perennial power Mustangs had never before won baseball conference titles in back-to-back seasons. But they checked that off the list with their 5-1 win over visiting Wauconda in the North Suburban Conference title game.
That's now five NSC championships for Mundelein since 2000 (2000, 2005, 2008, 2012 and now 2013).
"Back-to-back, baby," were the screams coming from the Mundelein dugout as starting pitcher Mitch Schulewitz shut the door on Wauconda with a strikeout for the final out.
Schulewitz (10-0) rolled up a total of 11 strikeouts and allowed no walks and only 4 hits in going the distance for Mundelein, which will need to update its 20-win season plaque as well. The Mustangs, who won the NSC Lake Division to qualify for the conference title game, are now 25-4.
"This is unbelievable to do something for the first time in school history," Schulewitz said. "Last year, we had the 34-win season and now this year, we have this. It's really nice. We've put a lot of work in as a team and it's nice that it's paid off.
"It's kind of surprising that this is the first back-to-back with the kind of teams we've had here and the coaching staff we have. We've had teams go downstate, but they never won two conference titles in a row. It shows how tough our conference is, so it's pretty awesome to be a part of something like this. Something to definitely remember."
Ironically, the Mustangs would like to forget the first three innings of the game. Wauconda starter James Holub was in a zone early and mowing down Mundelein batters one after another. The Mustangs opened with nine straight outs, including 4 strikeouts.
"We had some confidence going early," said Wauconda coach Bill Sliker, who believes his team made NSC history this season by becoming the first team to run through its division schedule without a loss (12-0 Prairie Division). "James was hitting his spots, he was getting ahead of some hitters. But we had a couple of little hiccups that they took advantage of and we just didn't score enough runs. We didn't come up with the big hits like we have been all year. Their pitcher did a good job."
Wauconda (17-6) did crack Schulewitz in the fourth inning when leadoff batter Jeff Lindberg opened with a double. Brandon Gibis then drove him home with a hard-hit single to right field.
"This was a great game to be in and we had a good start," said Gibis, who pitched 11⁄3 innings of relief. "But there were some things we could have done differently. We came up short."
The Bulldogs' lead (1-0) was certainly short-lived.
Mundelein rebounded immediately with 2 runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Thomas Gandolfi, who led off with a walk, and Will Farmer, who reached on an error, both scored.
"Their pitcher (Holub) was making us look sick over the first few times through the order. He was pitching out of his mind," Farmer said. "But a couple of walks helped us out and we were also able to come up with a couple of big hits.
"We knew we'd score a couple of runs off him. We knew we wouldn't lose 1-0."
Up 2-1, Mundelein then struck again in the fifth when Farmer drove in Michael Metz, who opened with a single. Farmer then scored off of a single by Ryan Dolan to put Mundelein up 4-1 going into the sixth inning.
The Mustangs added their final run in the sixth when Derek Parola drove in Logan Reckert with a single. Reckert blasted a shot into right field that took a funny hop and stretched out a triple.
"Their pitcher was doing a good job and was really throwing hard but we were able to string a few hits together. We felt good about being able to do that," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "We know that when we get up by a couple of runs and Mitch is pitching that we're in good shape."
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