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updated: 5/18/2017 9:19 PM

Baseball: Huntley claims FVC crown outright

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By Jared Birchfield
Daily Herald Correspondent

On Wednesday, the Huntley baseball team exploded for 14 runs against Prairie Ridge to clinch a share of the Fox Valley Conference title.

Thursday, the Red Raiders relied on a small ball offense in their home regular season finale to scratch out the runs needed to beat Prairie Ridge, 2-0 and claim the league crown outright.

"The kids are excited. It's testament to all the hard work and effort that they put in," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said about earning the conference title, the Red Raiders' first since 2014. "We won nine series -- that's incredible in this conference."

Both starting pitchers -- Huntley's Adam Smylie and the Wolves' Joe Hansen -- had strong outings. Smylie struck out 5, issued no walks and gave up 4 singles.

"Again today, the wind was kind of blowing with my curve ball, so that helped me out a lot," said Smylie. "I got my curveball in for strikes and got ahead. I was able to use all my pitches today."

Hansen pitched all 7 innings and allowed only 6 hits -- all singles. His defense backed him up with two inning-ending double plays.

"I thought Joe Hansen pitched outstanding -- I couldn't ask more from him," said PR coach Glen Pecoraro. "He was ahead of hitters all day long, changing speeds. And I loved the way our guys played defense today."

In the first frame, it appeared that game would be another high scoring contest as Hansen loaded the bases with two outs. The junior right-hander struck out Matt Rodriguez to end the threat.

"We knew today was going to be a hard scoring day with the wind blowing the way it was. I knew it was going to be a 2-1, 3-2 kind of ballgame," Jakubowski said. "We missed a sign in the first inning and missed getting a bunt down early. We knew we had to execute our small ballgame and we were able to capitalize on a couple of mistakes."

The Red Raiders scored the only run they needed in the third. Brad Model led off with a single up the middle, and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. He scored on Rodriguez' single.

Huntley (28-5, 20-3) picked up an unearned insurance run in the fourth. Tyler Koss walked to start the inning. Joe Boland's sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Koss then scored on an infield error.

PR (6-17, 11-22) had scoring opportunities in the first, fourth and fifth innings but was unable to advance a runner past second base.

"I was proud of the way our guys competed today," Pecoraro said. "We've just got to find some ways to score some runs."

Smylie pitched into the seventh. After yielding a one-out single to Zach Gulbransen, Noah Konie replaced him on the hill. Konie earned the save, throwing only six pitches to 2 batters.

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