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updated: 5/24/2014 6:41 PM

Baseball: Scouting the Class 3A/4A postseason in the Fox Valley

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  • South Elgin's Ryan Weiss delivers against Bartlett earlier this month.

       South Elgin's Ryan Weiss delivers against Bartlett earlier this month.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

Class 4A McHenry sectionalRegional sites: Crystal Lake South, DeKalb, Grayslake North, Rockford Guilford

Top regional seeds: Barrington, Huntley, Grant, Rockford East

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Crystal Lake South regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 5 Crystal Lake Central (7-21) at No. 4 Crystal Lake South (15-14), Monday at 2 p.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Barrington (25-9) vs. Crystal Lake South/Crystal Lake Central winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 Jacobs (21-13) vs. No. 3 Cary-Grove (20-13), 4:30 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at 3 p.m.

Outlook: The same five teams from last year's Jacobs regional (won by Jacobs) reconvene in arguably the McHenry sectional's toughest regional. Top seed Barrington shared the Mid-Suburban League West title with Schaumburg. On April 9, the Broncos defeated Jacobs 4-3 in a rematch of last year's regional title game. The Broncos lost the next day at Cary-Grove, 5-4. As for No. 4 seed Crystal Lake South, the host team swept Cary-Grove two weeks ago and split 2 games with Jacobs. "South's a (No.) 4 seed and they can beat anybody," Cary-Grove coach Don Sutherland said. "It's going to be a real crazy regional. Last year Barrington got in the championship game from the 4 spot. All the teams are evenly matched. You'd better pitch and play defense and hit. There won't be many runs scored with the pitching in that tournament, so you'd better play good defense and score when you get an opportunity to." Jacobs and Cary-Grove square off for the fourth time this season in Thursday's semifinal. They met in a nonconference game during their respective spring trips on March 26 in Marion, Ill. Reilly Peltier got the win in a 7-6 Jacobs victory. Jacobs senior Ryan Sargent pitched a 5-hitter in a 3-1 win over the Trojans on Monday, but Cary-Grove bounced back with a 10-3 win on Wednesday. That costly loss kept Jacobs from winning a share of the FVC Valley, but the Golden Eagles have moved on mentally. "It's the second season," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "We'll have four good practices before we face them. We know it's going to be a battle. It's a great game to be involved in. We'll be prepared. This will be the third time we've seen them in about 10 days." Jacobs has yet to face Cary-Grove junior left-hander Larkin Hanselmann (6-1, 1.84 ERA) while Cary-Grove has yet to see Jacobs sophomore right-hander Brenden Heiss (7-2, 1.58).

DeKalb regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 5 Rockford Jefferson at No. 4 Larkin (14-19), Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Huntley (24-7-1) vs. Jefferson/Larkin winner, Wednesday at 4 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 Dundee-Crown (13-17) vs. No. 3 DeKalb, Thursday at 4 p.m.; Regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: The IHSA has granted Huntley a do-over, sort of. All five teams return to the same regional and face the same matchups as a year ago, but the top-seeded Red Raiders seek a happier ending than the one they experienced in 2013, when they were upset in the title game by Dundee-Crown and pitcher Vince Damato, 3-0. Huntley has a pair of high-level starting pitchers in Eric Luecht (6-2, 1.09 ERA, 70 K, 18 BB, 58 IP) and Adam Kalish (6-0, 0.59 ERA, 33 K, 10 BB, 47⅓ IP). Illinois-bound catcher Mark Skonieczny (. 385, 11 doubles, 2 HR) leads the Fox Valley area with 31 RBI and cleanup hitter Tommy Kiriakopoulos (. 349) has driven in 26. No. 2 hitter Matt Sullivan is batting .444 (48-for-108) with 20 doubles, 20 RBI and has scored 39 runs. Huntley's talented hitters could face one of Larkin's senior co-aces -- Jack McCracken (7-2, 1.09 ERA, 38 K, 9 BB, 65 IP) or Brayden Royse (2-6, 1.76 ERA, 58 K, 23 BB, 51⅓ IP) -- if the Royals get past Jefferson. Huntley last year defeated Larkin 10-2 in a DeKalb semifinal by collecting 9 hits against McCracken and capitalizing on 4 errors. However, McCracken recently pitched a complete-game shutout against St. Charles East. "They have some quality wins and they have been playing very well of late," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said of the Royals. "If they can go out and beat Jefferson, it will be a good battle." To pull the upset, Larkin must support its pitching at the plate. The Royals enter with .248 team batting average, led by Jon Lenz (. 307, 7 doubles, 12 RBI), Tyler Kalusa (. 302, 6 doubles, 22 runs) and Royse (. 264, 8 doubles, 23 RBI). Larkin is 3-7 in 1-run games. "We've been in so many 1-run games against a gamut of teams," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. "We just need to realize it's still a baseball game. Play the right way fundamentally and you give yourself a chance." Dundee-Crown was pounded by Huntley twice last week, 10-0 and 10-2, as the Red Raiders charged to the outright title in the Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division. The Chargers are led offensively by catcher Brett Johnson (. 356, 10 doubles, 17 RBI), Zach Girard (. 284, 5 doubles, 2 HR), Riley Alvarado (. 267, 18 RBI) and Tyler Lewan (13 RBI). D-C's top pitcher is lefty Ahren Ludwig (4-3, 1.85 ERA, 67 K, 27 BB, 53 IP).

Grayslake North regionalMatchups: No. 5 Round Lake (8-17) at No. 4 Grayslake North (13-17), Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Grant (24-7) vs. Round Lake/Grayslake North winner, Wednesday at 4 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 McHenry (20-12) vs. No. 3 Prairie Ridge (19-16), Thursday at 4 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: Grant, two years removed from a third-place finish in Class 4A, won the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division for the first time in a decade. The Bulldogs must be wary of McHenry, a gritty team that specializes in seventh-inning comebacks.

Rockford Guilford regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 5 Rockford Auburn at Rockford Guilford, Monday at 1 p.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Rockford East (23-8) vs. Auburn/Guilford winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 Rockton Hononegah (22-11) vs. No. 3 Machesney Park Harlem, Thursday at 4:30 p.m.; Regional championship, Saturday at 10 a.m.

Outlook: The E-Rabs are the top seed. They fell shy of dethroning four-time NIC-10 champion Boylan but they were in the race until the final week. Hononegah has the talent to challenge for the title, led by four-year varsity pitcher Donovin Sims (Northern Illinois), pitcher Riley Pawelski (Illinois State) and outfielder Adrian Marquez (Wright State).

Advancement: The winner of the DeKalb regional faces the winner of the Grayslake North regional in a McHenry sectional semifinal on Wednesday, June 4 at 4 p.m. The winner of the Guilford regional plays the winner of the Crystal Lake South regional at 6:30 p.m. The sectional championship takes place on Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m.

Class 4A Schaumburg sectionalRegional sites: St. Charles North, York, Hoffman Estates, Lake Park

Top regional seeds: St. Charles North, Batavia, St. Charles East, Schaumburg

Hoffman Estates regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 18 Addison Trail (11-19) at No. 16 Hoffman Estates (12-15-1), Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2: No. 2 St. Charles East (24-10) vs. Addison Trail/Hoffman Estates winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 7 Wheaton North (17-13) vs. No. 10 South Elgin (19-8-1), Thursday at 4:30 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: South Elgin has the pitching to win a regional and perhaps more, led by Michigan recruit Ryan Nutof (6-0, 0.26 ERA, 86 K, 15 BB, 53⅓ IP), Max Keough (4-0, 1.49 ERA, 29 K, 12 BB, 33 IP) and Tyler Brown (3-3, 2.91 ERA, 31 K, 21 BB, 33⅔ IP). South Elgin raised its team batting average from .203 on April 30 to .285 through the end of the regular season. Offensive leaders include Dane Toppel (. 385, 16 RBI, 26 runs), Jared Kramer (. 314, 23 runs), Justin Bryski (. 358, 14 RBI, 17 runs), Nick Menken (. 330, 11 RBI, 16 runs) and Nutof (. 309, 16 RBI). Wheaton North knocked South Elgin out of the playoffs last season with a 5-0 regional semifinal win. St. Charles East took third in the state last season. The Saints defeated South Elgin 2-1 on April 10. Nutof held St. Charles East scoreless for 5 innings before departing.

York regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 17 Elgin (9-22) at No. 15 Bartlett (13-16), Monday at 11 a.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Batavia vs. Elgin/Bartlett winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 8 York vs. No. 9 Willowbrook, Thursday at 4:30 p.m.; Regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: Bartlett vies for its third straight regional title. The road begins with a rematch against Elgin, a team the Hawks defeated 11-3 on April 16. Elgin hitters Kiko Mari and Matt Karinski could face Bartlett senior Doug VanDyke, who was roughed up for 7 earned runs in last start against Metea Valley. VanDyke is 2-4 with a 2.39 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 20 walks in 41 innings. "Doug has the experience to get that one out of his system," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. "I expect him to pitch well and re-establish himself as our ace."

Lake Park regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 20 Streamwood (7-25) vs. No. 13 West Chicago (15-17), -Monday at 10 a.m.; Game 2: No. 4 Schaumburg (16-6) vs. Streamwood/West Chicago winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 5 Geneva vs. No. 12 Lake Park (12-22), Thursday at 4:30 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: Mid-Suburban League West champion Schaumburg is the top seed here. Streamwood defeated West Chicago 7-5 on April 16. A win would advance the Sabres to a rematch with Schaumburg, a team that beat them 10-0 in five innings on April 19. Chad Caminitti leads Streamwood with a .357 average, 12 doubles and 18 RBI.

St. Charles North regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 19 Conant at No. 14 Glenbard East, Monday at 10 a.m.; Game 2: No. 3 St. Charles North (21-12) vs. Conant/Glenbard East winner, Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 3: No. 6 Glenbard North vs. No. 11 Glenbard West, Thursday at 4:30 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.

Outlook: The North Stars enter regional play after going 3-3 in their final 6 games, sweeping 3 gamed from Elgin and losing 3 to UEC River champion Batavia.

Advancement: The winner of the York regional faces the winner of the Lake Park regional in a Schaumburg sectional semifinal on Wednesday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m. The winner of the Hoffman Estates regional plays the winner of the St. Charles North regional on Thursday, June 5 at 4:30 p.m. The sectional championship takes place on Saturday, June 7 at noon.

Class 3A Rochelle sectionalRegional sites: Plano, Sterling, Hampshire, Belvidere North

Top regional seeds: St. Francis, Rock Falls, Sycamore, Rockford Boylan

Hampshire regionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 5 Hampshire (13-17) at No. 4 Genoa-Kingston, Monday at 1 p.m.; Game 2: No. 1 Sycamore (27-7) vs. Hampshire/G-K winner, Wednesday at 4 p.m.; Game 3: No. 2 Burlington Central (19-11) vs. No. 3 Wheaton Academy (16-13), Thursday at 4 p.m.; regional championship, Saturday at noon.

Outlook: The Rockets have won two straight regional titles and four in the last five years, but that streak will be tested by hitting-rich Sycamore. "I think it's going to be a real good one," Rockets coach Kyle Nelson said of the regional. "Sycamore has lost a few games lately, but they've all been close. They are a good team with a lot of good hitting in the middle of the order." The Rockets counter with pitchers Dan Gerke (8-0, 0.71 ERA, 55 K, 18 BB, 49 IP), Jacob Schutta (3-5, 4.20 ERA) and Brendan Bushy (2-3, 2.67 ERA). Offensively, Andrew Wiss sets the table (. 356, 9 doubles, 26 runs) for Tanner Smith (. 347, 13 RBI), Mike Lee (. 298, 3 HR, 20 RBI) Gerke (14 RBI) and Schutta (. 366, 7 doubles, 15 RBI). Burlington Central enters the postseason on a 4-game winning streak. Hampshire has the ability to play with any opponent, thanks to the pitching of Trey Schramm (2-1, 0.46 ERA, 41 K, 14 BB, 30.2 IP), Dillon Kuhn (2-1, 3.74 ERA) and Alex Crinigan (1-4, 2.58 ERA, 27 K, 8 BB, 35.1 IP). Offensive leaders for the Whip-Purs include Brandon Bowen (. 322, 13 runs), Kuhn (. 300, 7 doubles, 11 RBI) and Tyler Schutt (. 412, 7 doubles, 20 runs).

Advancement: The winner of the Hampshire regional faces the winner of the Plano regional in a Rochelle sectional semifinal on Wednesday, June 4 at 4 p.m. The winner of the Sterling regional plays the winner of the Belvidere North regional on Thursday, June 5 at 4 p.m. The sectional championship takes place on Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m.

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