Jacobs blanks Dundee-Crown for 1st sectional title
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Jacobs baseball coach Jamie Murray had a lot of respect for the run Dundee-Crown was on leading up to the sectional championship game on Saturday.
In beating Fox Valley Conference powerhouses Huntley and Prairie Ridge, Murray knew a hot Charger team could score runs at anytime, none more indicative than their 10-run first against PR on Wednesday.
But by the same token, Murray didn't want his Golden Eagles losing sight of the way they had played up to this point either.
Jacobs didn't, and rallied to put 4 runs across with two outs in the first innings and scored 4 more in the second en route to a 9-0 win over its District 300 rival for the Class 4A Huntley sectional championship.
Jacobs earned the first sectional title in program history while the Cinderella run for Dundee-Crown (11-19), which didn't score a run in three meetings against Jacobs this season, comes to an end.
Jacobs (25-11) will now advance to Monday's 7 p.m. supersectional at Rockford RiverHawks Stadium against St. Charles East, a 5-3 winner over Wheaton North Saturday to win the St. Charles East sectional.
The Eagles benefited from Connor Conzelman's 2-for-4, 3 RBI performance and were paced by starting pitcher Nick Ledinsky, who allowed 2 hits in 7 innings while also going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.
Ledinsky struck out 6 Chargers on 100 pitches, walked only 2 and induced 9 groundouts to 3 flyouts with an early 8-run cushion.
"Nick Ledinsky was outstanding all game, he worked the strike zone early, got ahead in counts, stayed there, doubled-up on his off speed stuff. I think he kept them off balance, disrupted their timing — they were swinging the bat as well as anybody. they were hot," Murray said. "You have to keep battling, whether it's one out, two outs, but I think overall I'm so proud of the guys."
Jacobs' Grant Kale (2-for-3, RBI), Conzelman and Aaron Meciej each roped singles off D-C starter Vince Damato with two outs in the first after Joe Rizzuto was hit by a pitch. It set the stage for Ledinsky, who scorched a 2-run double to center to cap off 4-straight hits and a 4-0 lead before he would even throw a pitch.
"First inning we started off a little sluggish but that hit-by-pitch really got us — we could do something here," Ledinsky said. "Kale puts one in play, (Rizzuto) gets to third and we start going from there."
Jacobs kept it pouring in the second and put its first 3 batters on with singles, as Greg Sidor's RBI forced Damato out and brought Ryan Suwanski in.
Eventually Suwanski was able to settle things, but that was after Conzelman clubbed one to right, which looked initially like a home run. Instead, the wind blew it down and Conzelman settled for a double. But 2 more runs came in and it was 8-0.
"They were talking a little smack, that kind of gave us a little more drive so we jumped on them and they couldn't get up on that," Conzelman said. "Even better than four in the first because you get four in the first and shut you down one-two-three in the second, that kind of gives the momentum back to them but coming back scoring four more runs just flushed them down even more father than they were."
D-C was frozen after that. Conzelman had a diving grab in the fifth to rob Trent Muscat of a double and Ledinsky was able to locate his off-speed pitches while getting ahead in counts. He retired 10-straight at one point and the final 7 D-C batters. He threw 16 first-pitch strikes and used the wind to help keep the ball in.
"(I) really was just able to use the weather. Once it got up in air, it wasn't going much so I knew I could give them a little when they put the ball in play, kept it on the ground as well, and it really was working," said Ledinsky. "It's always good pitching with the lead, you can come into the dugout and I really wanted to get more, just really pounce on them and save our pitching for future games."
Damato was charged with 6 earned runs in his lone inning of work. Garrett Ryan and Luis Garcia accounted for Dundee-Crown's 2 hits.
"Anytime you allow a team with two outs to score four runs, three runs, whatever they scored, puts a little more pressure on our guys and that's what they did," D-C coach Jon Anderson said. "It's my first graduating class, we've done a great job, left a good legacy, coming out winning a regional. Those are going to be some tough shoes to fill. I told the boys, 'we were one of 16 teams playing today.' So very proud of them."
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