Class 4A McHenry sectionalMatchups: All games at Petersen Park. Game 1: Huntley (26-7-1) vs. Prairie Ridge (21-16), Wednesday at 4 p.m.; Game 2: Rockton Hononegah (24-11) vs. Jacobs (23-13), Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.; Sectional championship, Saturday at 11 a.m.
How they got here: Huntley defeated Larkin 4-0 and Dundee-Crown 3-2 (8 inn.) to win the DeKalb regional; Prairie Ridge defeated McHenry 4-0 and Grant 1-0 (9 inn.) to win the Grayslake North regional; Hononegah defeated Machesney Park Harlem 5-3 to win the Rockford Guilford regional; Jacobs defeated Cary-Grove 3-1 and Barrington 7-2 to win the Crystal Lake South regional.
Outlook: Three teams from the Valley Division of the Fox Valley Conference join regular sectional qualifier Hononegah in pursuit of a Rockford supersectional berth. Huntley and Prairie Ridge don't need an introduction. The Red Raiders swept league rival Prairie Ridge in 2 regular-season meetings, 4-3 on April 25 and 8-2 in 10 innings on April 26. Huntley right-hander Adam Kalish won the 4-3 game by limiting the Wolves to 3 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and a walk. He struck out 2 in 6⅔ innings. Huntley senior Eric Luecht did not allow an earned run in 8 innings in the 8-2 victory. He scattered 7 hits and a walk and struck out 6. If the Red Raiders stick to the pitching order they followed in regional play, Luecht (7-2, 75 K, 22 BB, 0.97 ERA, 65 IP) would start against Prairie Ridge with Kalish (6-0, 6 saves, 0.81 ERA, 36 K, 13 BB, 52 IP) ready for a possible showdown with Jacobs, which swept 2 regular-season games from Huntley 2-1 on April 22 and 11-6 on April 24. The Golden Eagles did not face Kalish during the regular season. Also available to pitch for Huntley are Nick Costantino (7-1, 1.31 ERA, 42 K, 20 BB, 42⅔ IP) and Mason Martin (4-0, 2.14 ERA, 32 K, 6 BB, 36 IP). Prairie Ridge pitching did not give up a run in 16 innings of 2 regional victories. Junior Ben Cilano (4-0) would face Huntley if the Wolves stick to their pitching order from the regional. Cilano pitched 6 innings in a 4-0 shutout of McHenry in a regional semi. "I think we're kind of a carbon copy of one another," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "We both have good pitching, both play very good defense and at times we find ways to scratch across runs. I expect it to be a low-scoring ballgame. The team that executes situational hitting and defense best will probably be the team that wins the game." Jacobs and Hononegah met in a sectional semifinal last season. Jacobs won 3-2 via a 2-run rally in the bottom of the eighth, fueled by a walk and four straight bunts. The Indians are led by Division-I pitchers Donovin Sims (Northern Illinois) and Riley Pawleski (Illinois State) and outfielder Adrian Marquez (Wright State). Sims pitched against the Golden Eagles last postseason, holding them to 1 earned run on 8 hits with 3 strikeouts and no walks. Sims will once again face Jacobs hitters Grant Kale (.325, 8 doubles, 14 RBI) and Ben Murray (.383, 11 doubles, 2 HR, 15 RBI). Kale went 2-for-3 against Hononegah last year and Murray was 2-for-4. Senior pitcher Reilly Peltier (6-2, 75 K, 30 BB, 1.02 ERA, 55 IP) won that 2013 playoff game against Hononegah in relief. Sophomore Brenden Heiss pitched Saturday, so Wednesday's start will likely go to Peltier or Tim Hubner (5-2, 39 K, 26 BB, 2.55 ERA, 46⅔ IP). "It's like rematch central," said Jacobs coach Jamie Murray, whose team defeated Barrington for the second straight year to win a regional. "We'll probably see the Sims kid again. We'll game plan." In the last calendar year first baseman Ben Murray has become one of the most decorated athletes in recent Jacobs history. He has been a key member of baseball teams that have won 2 regionals and a sectional and he started for a basketball team that won a regional title in March. "That's sick if you think about it," he said. "I want more, of course. Never satisfied, never satisfied." Hononegah defeated Huntley in a nonconference matchup on May 17 in Huntley, 4-3 in nine innings.
Advancement: The winner of the McHenry sectional faces the winner of the Glenbrook South sectional in a supersectional at Rockford Aviators Stadium on Monday, June 9 at 6 p.m. Competing in the Glenbrook South sectional are Libertyville (32-5), St. Viator (23-14), Glenbrook South (29-5) and Mundelein (33-2).
Schaumburg sectionalMatchups: Game 1: No. 1 Batavia (31-3-1) vs. No. 13 West Chicago (17-16), Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.; Game 2: No. 10 South Elgin (21-10) vs. No. 3 St. Charles North (23-12), Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
How they got here: Batavia defeated Bartlett 5-4 and Willowbrook 8-1 to win the York regional; West Chicago defeated Schaumburg 2-0 and Lake Park 7-4 to win the Lake Park regional; South Elgin defeated Wheaton North 10-0 (5 inn.) and Hoffman Estates 12-0 (5 inn.) to win the Hoffman Estates regional; St. Charles North defeated Glenbard East 10-5 and Glenbard North 2-1 (9 inn.) to win the St. Charles North regional.
Outlook: It's hard to play any better than South Elgin did in winning the Hoffman Estates regional. The Storm outscored Wheaton North and the host school 22-0 and outhit them 21-4. "We've been working on that very hard in practice," South Elgin coach Jim Kating said of the offense. "It's great to see that work translating to games. I'm happy with our approach at the plate. We're putting the ball in play and putting as much pressure on defenses as possible." South Elgin applies pressure by putting runners in motion. Storm baserunners have collected an area-best 142 stolen bases, led by Dane Toppel (32), Jared Kramer (25) and Nick Menken (18). The improving offense makes South Elgin a dangerous playoff team when combined with the pitching staff's collective ERA of 1.96. Michigan recruit and area ERA leader Ryan Nutof (0.24) is expected to get the nod against St. Charles North. In two varsity seasons, the right-hander has gone 12-1 and limited opponents to 6 earned runs in 95 innings. He has struck out 147 and walked 30. If the Storm advance to the sectional final, Kating can choose between dependable starters Max Keough (4-1, 1.65 ERA, 29 K, 13 BB, 34 IP) or Tyler Brown (2.57 ERA, 39 K, 28 BB, 43⅔ IP). South Elgin defeated the North Stars 3-2 in their only meeting on April 17. Nutof in that game handcuffed St. Charles North on 3 hits in 7 innings. He struck out 12 and walked 3. "I think it'll be a good, classic battle like the one we had before," Kating said. "Whoever flinches first and at the same time doesn't make a mistake is going to win the game." Outright Upstate Eight River champion and No. 1 overall seed Batavia defeated South Elgin 6-0 on April 18. Batavia defeated West Chicago 9-6 on April 17. The Bulldogs' 22-game winning streak includes a 3-game sweep of St. Charles North by a combined score of 23-7.
Advancement: The winner of the Schaumburg sectional faces the winner of the Loyola Academy sectional in the Schaumburg (Boomers Stadium) supersectional on Monday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m. Competing in the Loyola Academy sectional are Maine South (25-6), Evanston (21-13-1), New Trier (20-17) and Loyola Academy (17-11).