From deflation to elation in two innings, Glenbard North's baseball team endured it all on Monday.
Jim Zay made sure everything turned out OK for his team, delivering a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Panthers a 2-1 victory over Hoffman Estates in the Class 4A Hoffman Estates regional quarterfinals in Carol Stream.
The clutch hit more than made up for the two-out game-tying RBI single Dylan Bloom smacked for the Hawks in the top of the seventh that eventually sent the game to extra innings. The disappointment of coming an out away from victory eased big-time seven outs later.
"A bunch of our seniors, this could have been their last game and we just wanted to keep it going," Zay said. "We could have hit the ball a little better, but pitching and defense this was one of our better games."
Dom Rotondo coaxed a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth and moved to second on Anthony Ferreri's single. Zay roped his single to left field to score Rotondo and start the Panthers' celebration.
It was one of the few opportunities cashed in on by either team. Both sides stranded the bases loaded and combined for 19 runners left on base.
Glenbard North starter Francesco Sepede scattered 9 hits in 7 innings while reliever Brandon Gonzales retired all six batters he faced to notch the win. Hoffman Estates starter Sam Herbert allowed 6 hits in 6 innings and retired nine straight at one point.
"That was a tough one," said Hawks coach Chuck Abbott. "The timely hitting wasn't there, but our guys played hard, and they played hard. I thought we played a really good game. Unfortunately someone has to lose a game like that. That's the game of baseball."
Zay spotted Glenbard North (9-23) to a 1-0 fifth-inning lead with a run-scoring single. Hoffman Estates (8-19) tied it in the seventh when Josh Magers had a one-out infield single and stole second and third before Bloom's hit.
The Panthers face top-seeded St. Charles North -- the team that eliminated them in the playoffs the last two seasons -- in Wednesday's regional semifinals.
"Both teams played well, both pitchers pitched well," said Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko. "We had plenty of chances, but we just kept plugging away and Jimmy came up with the big hit."
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