Simply by watching, you can tell how much Downers Grove South's baseball players love playing together.
That joy went to another level Saturday.
The Mustangs claimed the second sectional title in program history and first since 2005 by pounding Plainfield North 10-1 in the Class 4A Oswego sectional final.
Downers South (28-8) advances to Monday's Standard Bank Stadium supersectional in Crestwood to face St. Rita (35-4), a 4-3 winner over Mt. Carmel. St. Rita beat Downers South 7-6 in nonconference action May 20.
Aiming for its first trip to the state semifinals next weekend, Downers South hopes to continue its torrid hitting. The Mustangs have outscored playoff opponents 31-4, including 29 runs scored in the last three games.
"I don't even think it's the physical part of the game, I really think it's just everyone's enthusiasm and we all believe in each other and we play for each other," said Mustangs senior shortstop Joe Becht. "We're having fun. We're just playing baseball and good things are happening."
Scoreless through two innings, the third-seeded Mustangs exploded for 7 runs on 4 hits and 4 errors in the top of the third.
Becht singled home the game's first 2 runs, and Danny Oriente and Chris Pedrak added run-scoring singles. Beyond that Downers South's stellar bunting and aggressive baserunning forced the Tigers into numerous defensive miscues.
"When you speed the game up a little bit, it makes it more difficult," said Mustangs coach Darren Orel. "When you constantly have people putting pressure on you, it makes it that much harder. That's our brand and our style, and we're just fortunate that we've been able to get that lead. I think that really settles us."
Oriente's sacrifice fly and another Pedrak run-scoring single boosted Downers South's lead to 9-0 before top-seeded Plainfield North (28-9) notched its lone run on a Zach Jarosz RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. Becht singled in the Mustangs' final run in the fifth.
Matt Zinnecker went 4-for-5 while Zac Taylor and Pedrak had 3 hits apiece. Becht, Oriente and Pedrak combined for 7 RBI.
Zac Taylor scattered 5 hits in 5 innings to earn the win. Peter Hamot closed the game with 2 scoreless innings of relief.
"At the beginning of the season, we knew the playoffs would be our time to shine," Taylor said. "We knew what we had to do in that first playoff game. We've kept it going and we're not going to stop."
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