Ahern Ludwig and Barrington tamed Arlington 3-1 in the opening round of the Illinois American Legion baseball state tournament at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights on Wednesday.
Ludwig kept Arlington Post 208 off balance with his fastball, and Barrington Post 158 came up with just enough offense to move into Thursday's semifinals of the winner's bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
Barrington (38-7), which has won 30 of its last 31 games and 12 in a row, meets Mattoon at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Barrington got great pitching to keep the streak alive.
Ludwig was impressive all night, striking out nine, including the last three batters he faced in the seventh inning, when Arlington loaded the bases with nobody out. Ludwig then gave way to Quentin Sefcik, who pitched the final two innings, striking out three.
"Ludwig was unbelievable today," Barrington coach Nate Gray said. "We knew that they had lefties in the lineup, so we adjusted our rotation accordingly."
Ludwig, a lefty who played at Dundee-Crown last year and will be at Judson University next season, did not allow a hit past the third inning.
He was like Houdini in the seventh, with his team leading 3-1. After a hit batter and two infield errors on bunts, Arlington had the bases loaded with nobody out. Ludwig refocused, striking out the Nos. 8, 9 and 1 hitters in succession to end the threat.
"I know I made that bad throw to first and I was feeling really bad," Ludwig said. "I just wanted to pick my team up. So I just settled myself down and I just got it done."
Sefcik, a Carmel grad, allowed base runners in each of the last two innings, but shut the door on Arlington to earn the save.
"You get an opportunity to come in and help your team, and it felt good," Sefcik said. "I felt good out there tonight."
Arlington (35-5) touched Ludwig for a run in the second inning.
Mike Dolan led off with a walk. He then scored on Andrew Ferrante's triple. Ferrante had two hits on the day, including a double.
Arlington and pitcher Mick Wazorick, who stymied Barrington for the first four innings, got touched up for a pair of runs in the fifth.
Brad Powell beat out an infield single with two outs. He then scored when Mitch Pfeiffer tripled to left. Pfeiffer later scored on Scott Nelson's single.
"I have been taking lots of swings with coach (Kirby) Smith," Pfeiffer said. "He has been helping me put backspin on the ball. Their pitcher threw me an inside pitch and I turned on it and went all the way to the wall."
Barrington added an insurance run in the eighth thanks to a pair of Arlington errors as Jack Lenz was able to come in score.
Arlington, which will play Swansea/Fairview Heights at 11 a.m. in the loser's bracket, knows it now faces a tough task.
"We are going to have to battle back," assistant coach Dennis Drolet said. "We have been a great hitting team all year, but we just couldn't come up with the big hits when we needed them. I tip to my hat to their pitcher. He made big pitches when he needed to."
Northwest Legion 11, Mattoon 3: Adam O'Malley bounced back from a rough start in his previous outing and handcuffed Mattoon, striking out eight while allowing just 8 hits.
"I felt real good out there, especially after my last game against Northbrook where I got knocked around," O'Malley said. "My curveball was working well today."
Northwest Post 690 (25-7-1) banged out 11 hits and took advantage of 3 Mattoon errors and 8 walks.
"With Adam on the mound, we knew if we could get him some runs, we would be OK," said Jack Holden, who had 3 hits, including a double and a triple and scored the runs and had a RBI.
O'Malley also came up big at the plate, with 2 hits and an RBI while Peter Arbov had 2 hits and 2 RBI. Max Paolicchi came on to pitch the final two innings and strike out five.
"(Co-head coach) Kevin Miller made a great decision to go with O'Malley today," co-head coach Jeff Ryder said. "O'Malley was not going to have two bad outings in a row. He bounced back great."
Carter Price had 4 hits for Mattoon (24-7).
Galesburg 10, Fairview Heights 9: Galesburg Post 285 outlasted Swansea/Fairview Heights Posts 2007/978 as Dylan Klinck doubled home Drew Claeys in the bottom of the eighth to break the tie.
Arlington Post 208 vs. Swansea/Fairview Heights Posts 2007/978, 11 a.m.
Northwest Legion Post 690 vs. Galesburg Post 285, 3 p.m.
Barrington Post 158 vs. Mattoon Post 88, 7 p.m.