Jack Bellinger and Schaumburg put together their best Houdini imitation Wednesday. And when they were done, the host Saxons had sole possession of first place in the Mid-Suburban West baseball race with a 3-1 victory over Barrington.
For the first 6 innings, Barrington had runners on base. And on each occasion, Bellinger, who is a sophomore, was able to pitch his team out of jams, forcing Barrington to strand 10 runners, six of whom were in scoring position.
"We played our game," Schaumburg coach Cal Seely said. "Bellinger really fought out there today. We didn't do any favors for him defensively, but he really battled. He made big pitched when he needed them."
After the Broncos tallied a run in the first, Bellinger magically found ways to escape trouble.
Barrington had runners on first and third with two outs in the first, first and third with one out in the fourth, and first and second with one out in the fifth. Each time Bellinger was able to bear down and retire the Broncos.
His best escape act may have been in the fifth, when he got a comebacker and turned it into a 1-6-3 double play.
"I found myself in trouble, but was able to find myself," said Bellinger, who improved his record to 3-1. "I was shaking like crazy out there. I just brought myself back to my center and trusted my team."
Schaumburg (16-4, 11-3) leads Barrington (23-8, 10-4) by 1 game with two conference games left. And since the Saxons beat Barrington in both of their meetings, Schaumburg needs just a win Friday over Hersey or Monday against Elk Grove to represent the West in the MSL championship game. It would be for the first time since 2008.
"At this point we control our destiny," Seely said. "That's what we want. We want to be in control."
Barrington looked like it was in control early.
With two outs in the first inning, Jake Petersen singled and Jake Coon followed with a double. Dan Kubiuk then hit a shot through the left side, but Schaumburg shortstop Joe Franz made a diving stop, allowing just 1 run to score. Bellinger got the next batter to fly out to end the inning, foreshadowing how he would handle the Broncos the rest of the way.
Barrington pitcher Jake Zyzda had some defensive help of his own to keep the Saxons off the scoreboard in the first 4 innings. Twice the Broncos turned double plays, with second baseman Joey Sciaccotta starting both.
Schaumburg's Jack Holden led off the the fifth by being hit by a pitch. Christian Spitelli then doubled down the left-field line to score Holden.
With Holden on second, Connor Quinn then changed Scahumburg's fortunes offensively. With two strikes, Quinn laid down a sacrifice bunt in front of the mound. The ball was misfired into right field, scoring Holden and moving Quinn to second.
"I was a little nervous after missing the first two attempts," Quinn said. "We practice this all the time, so I was ready for it. He threw me curveballs on both of those, and I knew he was going to throw another one. I got a good bunt down."
Quinn then was able to score when Bradley Schwind came up with his second hit of the game to give Bellinger and the Saxons a 3-1 lead. Bellinger then retired the Broncos in order for the first time in the seventh inning to finish the game.
"We had our chances," Barrington coach Pat Wire said. "We just couldn't get clutch hits and come through when we needed to. Plenty of opportunity is all we can ask for."