Jon Michiels hadn't hit a baseball over an outfield fence all season.
On Saturday the West Chicago senior first baseman did it twice.
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"I couldn't have waited for a better time to actually put some over the fence," Michiels said. "It was about time."
Michiels hit 2 homers and drove in 5 runs and West Chicago won its first regional championship since 2006, defeating host Lake Park 7-4 in Roselle.
"Unbelievable," Michiels said. "I've been waiting for this since I was 10. Coming into high school, waiting for that, now getting the opportunity. I played the greatest game I ever played on this field. ... Unbelievable. Beautiful Saturday. It's amazing. It feels fantastic."
"He's awesome, I'll tell you right now," said Wildcats coach Dan McCarthy, losing his voice in the postgame celebration. "He wasn't an all-conference kid, but I'll tell you, if there's a more clutch kid I don't know him."
West Chicago got off to a great start, Austin Kordik singling and Connor Dall walking. A missed sacrifice bunt brought Michiels to the plate for the first time, and he pulled the baseball over the 320-foot sign down the right-field line.
"He picked us up with a 3-run homer," McCarthy said. "And then it looks like Lake Park's getting back in the game and he puts 2 on the board by himself with his second home run (in the fifth inning, also to right field). Just a tremendous job there. Made some nice plays defensively."
While Michiels was doing his damage, Wildcats pitcher Dave Kordik was limiting the Lake Park damage from the mound. He avoided crooked numbers, allowing the Lancers only one run apiece in the first, fourth, fifth and seventh innings. In 7 innings he struck out four and walked just one.
"They played good defense and their pitcher threw strikes," Lake Park coach Dan Colucci said. "I think he only had one walk all day and that was in the last inning. They just outplayed us. They did a nice job. They've got a good ballclub over there."
"He's been real strong for us all year," Michiels added of Dave Kordik. "He's our No. 1. He threw probably one of his greatest games of his year too."
The No. 12 seed Lancers (13-23) threatened in the seventh inning, but with two runners on and two out, Wildcats second baseman Ryan Koester ranged far to his left for a groundball, spun and threw out the batter at first base.
"They made a great play to end the game," Colucci said.
West Chicago (18-17), the No. 13 seed, advances to meet top-seeded Batavia at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinals.
"Underdogs," Michiels said. "I don't know. You see it all the time. Just underdogs coming through."
"We're playing our best baseball right now," McCarthy added. "I know (Batavia is) awfully good. It'll be a good challenge for our kids, but we'll be ready for them, that's for sure."
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