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updated: 6/9/2013 12:53 AM

Grimaces — not grins — for Libertyville

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  • Left to right, Libertyville players Matt Vogt, Evan Skoug and Justin Guarnaccio hold the second-place trophy following the Wildcats' 2-1 loss to Mt. Carmel in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Left to right, Libertyville players Matt Vogt, Evan Skoug and Justin Guarnaccio hold the second-place trophy following the Wildcats' 2-1 loss to Mt. Carmel in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Evan Skoug makes a fist as he looks toward his team's dugout after hitting a first-inning double during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.

       Libertyville's Evan Skoug makes a fist as he looks toward his team's dugout after hitting a first-inning double during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Riley Lees celebrates after scoring for the Wildcats during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville's Riley Lees celebrates after scoring for the Wildcats during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Sean Ferraro breaks up a double play as Mt. Carmel shortstop Joey Houston hangs onto the ball in the fifth inning of the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville's Sean Ferraro breaks up a double play as Mt. Carmel shortstop Joey Houston hangs onto the ball in the fifth inning of the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Riley Lees scores for the Wildcats during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville's Riley Lees scores for the Wildcats during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville right fielder Conor Simpson goes deep to catch a Mt. Carmel flyball during the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville right fielder Conor Simpson goes deep to catch a Mt. Carmel flyball during the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville shortstop Jimmy Govern gets a ball on the short hop, which he threw to first for an out during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville shortstop Jimmy Govern gets a ball on the short hop, which he threw to first for an out during the Class 4A state baseball championship game against Mt. Carmel at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville players have a group photo taken following their second-place finish in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.

       Libertyville players have a group photo taken following their second-place finish in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville pitcher Nate Cote delivers to the plate during the Class 4A championship game against Mt. Carmel.

       Libertyville pitcher Nate Cote delivers to the plate during the Class 4A championship game against Mt. Carmel.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville pitcher Jason Buss is congratulated for his effort after being removed from the game in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.

       Libertyville pitcher Jason Buss is congratulated for his effort after being removed from the game in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville players stand together in their dugout as fireworks are launched in celebration of Mt. Carmel's victory in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.

       Libertyville players stand together in their dugout as fireworks are launched in celebration of Mt. Carmel's victory in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville catcher Evan Skoug holds up the ball for the umpire after tagging out Mt. Carmel's Joshua Stowers on an attempted steal of home in the seventh inning.

       Libertyville catcher Evan Skoug holds up the ball for the umpire after tagging out Mt. Carmel's Joshua Stowers on an attempted steal of home in the seventh inning.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Mt. Carmel pitcher Jeremy Kravetz, right, celebrates his team's victory over Libertyville with teammate Beau Filkins in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.

       Mt. Carmel pitcher Jeremy Kravetz, right, celebrates his team's victory over Libertyville with teammate Beau Filkins in the Class 4A state baseball championship game at Silver Cross Field in Joliet Saturday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Teenage male athletes often don't smile for team photos.

It's all about looking tough.

On Saturday, the Libertyville baseball players didn't show many teeth when photographers were snapping their picture on the third base side of Silver Cross Field in Joliet. But, this time, it had nothing to do with toughness.

The Wildcats were sad, too sad to smile, and their fans were trying to do their best to cheer them up.

"Smile, guys," one female fan yelled gently from the stands as she watched the Wildcats stare into the cameras. "Smile. Second is soooooo good."

Of course, Libertyville was hoping for first in the Class 4A state championship game. But the Wildcats fell just short to Mt. Carmel in a 2-1 defeat in which the winning run was gut-wrenchingly brought across on an error in the sixth inning.

"This is the worst thing I've ever had to go through," Libertyville junior catcher Evan Skoug said through tears. "I couldn't ask for better people to be with this season. I just wish I could have done more to help.

"You couldn't ask for a better effort, we just fell short. And right now, it just hurts too much."

When the sting subsides, the Wildcats will be able to grin (even if it's just a little bit) about the fact that they were a part of modern history. Libertyville, which finishes with a 28-12-1 record, is the first team from Lake County to play in a state title game since 1988, when Barrington took second place. Overall, Libertyville's place in the game marks only the ninth time that a team from Lake County has played for a baseball state championship, dating back to 1940.

North Chicago was the first Lake County team to break through, taking second place in 1955. Waukegan took second in 1960 and then won Lake County's first state title in 1971. Libertyville took second in 1976, Waukegan West won the Class AA title in 1983 and Barrington won it in 1986 before placing second in both 1987 and 1988.

"It's definitely special to be part of this. The coaches have said that it's been a long time (for Lake County)," said senior center fielder Justin Guarnaccio, who drove in Libertyville's only run with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning. "It's surreal. Even getting here was unbelievable, the greatest experience of my life.

"You're kind of happy for our season, but also sad that we lost and for me, this is my last game ever that I'll play baseball. It's definitely a weird feeling. I don't like it. But I knew it was going to be emotional no matter what."

The emotions kicked up a few notches in the top of the sixth. Up until that point, it was a tight, scoreless pitchers' duel between Libertyville starter Nate Cote and lefty Jeremy Kravetz of Mt. Carmel. Both pitchers had let up only 4 hits apiece through five innings.

"I was nervous coming in, biggest stage I've ever been on," said Cote, who walked just one batter in 6 full innings. "But once I got my first pitch across, I just worked on hitting my spots. I just wanted to attack."

Cote began the sixth inning with an out but then hit the second batter, Jerry Houston. Right after that, Jason Gasser drove a double deep into the left field corner to score Houston. Gasser got to third on a sacrifice fly and then, with two outs, was able to score when Tom Hayes lined a ball to short that was misplayed on a bad hop.

That put Mt. Carmel up 2-0.

"It was a tough out and we made those plays all year," Libertyville senior designated hitter Kevin Calamari said of the miscue. "You get a tough out every now and then, and what you have to do is pick everyone up and come together as a team and battle and I thought we did a great job of that today."

The Wildcats battled right back into the game in the bottom of the sixth. After beginning with two straight outs on strikeouts, Calamari drilled a double to left field. Guarnaccio then drove in pinch runner Riley Lees with his single to cut the deficit to a single run.

Libertyville had Guarnaccio and Matt Vogt, who reached earlier after being hit by a pitch, on base but couldn't get them in. The Wildcats were then retired in order in the seventh by Kravetz.

"I couldn't be more proud of my kids," Libertyville coach Jim Schurr said. "If you had told me that we'd get this far and lose to a school with kids from 26 different zip codes and we're from a town of 15,000, I'd say I'd like that fight. We out-hit them. We out-pitched them. We just had one more error.

"There's not much more you can do to put yourself in a position to be there. It just didn't go our way."

For Mt. Carmel, which finishes 32-8, the state championship is the first in school history. The Caravan didn't place in its appearance in 2003, took second place in 2005 and placed fourth in 2011, all under current head coach Brian Hurry.

"It's exhilarating," said Hurry, who watched with his heart in his throat as the last out to be made by his team to clinch hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity. "That ball was in the air for quite some time and you just were thinking about how special this (moment) was.

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