Grayslake Central's baseball team won't remember the mere 2 hits it mustered against Metamora in its final game.
The Rams won't remember Metamora's 7-run sixth, which turned Saturday morning's Class 3A third-place showdown into a route.
They won't remember the throw across the diamond during Metamora's big inning that pegged the umpire in the back of the shoulder and ricocheted away from every guy wearing a glove.
Well, the Rams probably will remember that play. Who won't?
"We just joked about it on the elevator (up the pressroom)," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "I'm like, 'I don't know if I've ever seen that.' But as (first baseman) Kyle (Clark) said, 'The throw was going to be so far down the right-field line that (the ball) hitting the umpire probably helped us.' "
At last, the Rams could chuckle. Their 10-1 loss at Silver Cross Field in Joliet certainly was nothing to laugh about. With sophomore left-hander Geremy Guerrero in control from the start on the mound, and Grayslake Central committing an unheard-of 7 errors, Metamora broke open a tight game late to finish its season with a victory and 27-13 record.
Grayslake Central, which was seeking to repeat its third-place finish from last year, finished 29-12.
"We were drained from (Friday)," said Whalen, whose Rams lost their semifinal to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 3-2 in 10 innings. "We had expended a lot of energy. We knew it was going to be tough today getting up for the third-place game. But credit to Metamora."
Despite getting no-hit and committing 3 errors through three innings, Grayslake Central found itself in a scoreless game.
Matt Loeffl finally broke up Guerrero's no-hitter with a single into center field with two out in the fourth.
"He had a nice curveball, especially for a lefty," said Loeffl, a lefty hitter. "It came in at me and then broke right in. I knew the curveball was coming, so I just stayed on it and decided to put it in the outfield. It felt good to get a hit."
Grayslake Central then grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fifth, as sophomore catcher Sam Nozicka led off with a single. Justin Dooley sacrificed courtesy runner Brett Yoder to second, and Yoder came all the way around to score on Austin Kaiser's groundout to first base.
But Metamora responded immediately in the bottom of the fifth, scoring 3 runs. Rams starter Russell Lundius departed with a runner on first base via an error after the Redbirds tied the score. Kansas State-commit Ethan Skender greeted reliever Kyle Henke with a booming RBI triple to left-center, just missing his 12th homer of the season. Skender then sped home on cleanup hitter Drew Beenders' perfectly executed suicide squeeze, one pitch after Grayslake Central pitched out.
"I believe that's the first time all year we called it," Metamora coach Eric Stone said. "That was an interesting dynamic there. I was watching Coach Whalen, and he was watching me. I knew there was a pitchout coming at some point to try to sniff it out. I was going through my signs watching him, and I felt on the pitchout call, he was thinking it was coming, so I waited another pitch."
Despite being down only 3-1 going into the top of the sixth, Grayslake Central was about out of gas on a hot day.
"You could just tell it wasn't our day," Clark said. "Even in the first inning, our swings looked slow. We looked tired. Maybe we lacked a little focus."
Besides Grayslake Central's errant throw off the ump, which scored a run, Metamora's 7-run sixth featured a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Skender (2-for-3), consecutive RBI singles by Beenders, Brendan Nachtrieb and Caleb Brachbill (2-for-4) and a 2-run single by Guerrero.
"They hit the ball, and when they hit it at us, we couldn't make the plays," Rams shortstop Freddie Landers said. "The wheels fell off. It definitely wasn't good representation of our team. But I think we've represented ourselves well for so long that no one is going to remember this day. They're going to remember all the good ones that we had together as a team."
The 5-foot-10, 225-pound Guerrero went the distance on the mound, striking out five and walking one. Third baseman Brachbill and shortstop Skender both made spectacular plays in the field.
"I was executing all of my pitches very well," said Guerrero, who threw a fastball, curve, slider and changeup. "(Catcher) Jake (Guede) and I were working together, and Coach was calling good pitches. I was mostly letting my defense work, as well."
Afterward, Whalen tried shedding some perspective. Three-year varsity players Clark, Landers and Loeffl each played on two Fox Valley Conference Fox Division, three regional, three sectional and two supersectional championship teams.
"There are a lot of high school players that would trade places with these guys in a heartbeat," Whalen said of the three seniors. "To be able to play on the last weekend of the season is just awesome. I'm sure the loss will hurt a little bit, but it's not indicative of their career and their season. We had a heck of a season to get here."