Baseball: Fivelson’s walk-off single lifts Hampshire

Hampshire’s No. 3 hitter Ari Fivelson exuded confidence as he strode to the plate in the eighth inning.

The table was set for Fivelson and the Whip-Purs to finish off Dixon, with runners on first and third and two outs. He was not about to let the opportunity slip away.

“I knew when Dom [Borecky] got walked I had two good at-bats before that,” Fivelson said. “If I saw a fastball, I was jumping on it. I’m not even going to lie, I swung as hard as I could.”

When Fivelson rounded first, he saw Dukes center fielder Max Clark stop running as his shot hit the artificial turf of Duly Health and Care Field in deep right-center.

Fivelson chucked his batting helmet to the infield as Calen Scheider touched home, giving the Whips a 5-4 walk-off victory Thursday. The end of the game was the first lead of the game for Hampshire (5-0).

Both teams got a first-hand look at the site of the IHSA’s Class 3A and 4A State Tournaments in June.

Hampshire second baseman Jaryd Vence came up big twice in the eighth for the Whips, first throwing out a base runner at third on a relay throw from right fielder Wilson Wemhoff. That would have given the Dukes (4-1) a runner at third with no outs.

Reliever Lukas Marek worked a scoreless eighth, and Vence delivered big at the plate as well, ripping a first-pitch fastball to the fence in left field for a double.

“I was really looking for any kind of ball,” Vence said. “I just swung as hard as I could and put it over the left fielder. I was really excited, it put us in a good spot to win the game.”

Vence was tagged out on the next play but stayed in a rundown long enough for Scheider to reach second base. Scheider was balked to third, and Borecky drew a walk to set the stage for Fivelson.

“Jaryd saved the game with that throw to third,’’ Hampshire coach Frank Simoncelli said. “He took that momentum and got the double and gave our guys some confidence. That’s what we needed. That runs through the lineup.”

Whips left-hander Jack Schane was outstanding with 6 2/3 innings, six strikeouts and two earned runs. Schane entered in the first when starter Luke Mejdrich struggled with his control and left after five batters.

“I mainly focused on pounding the zone and throwing strikes the whole time,” Schane said. “The strikeout comes when it comes down to it, but putting the ball in play and letting my defense cover for me.

“Picking up your teammates is the greatest thing you can do for your team because when you’re able to bounce back and get the win like we did today, it’s great for the team.”

Schane worked four perfect innings and had retired 11 consecutive batters in the top of the seventh when Dixon’s No. 8 man Brady Lawrence hit the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence, giving the Dukes a 4-3 lead.

“He’s a sophomore and we brought him up for that reason, he can hit,” Dukes coach Jason Burgess said. “We didn’t know he was going to do that. If he stays within his ability he can do that kind of stuff. That was a sophomore coming up in a big spot, staying within his swing and having a great approach.”

Lawrence, a lefty, was frustrated at two previous at-bats against Schane when he struck out.

“My first two at-bats weren’t very good,” he said. “I knew I had to change something. I just went up there relaxed and loosened up a little bit. I felt it off the bat and it felt good. I just thought, ‘That’s the one.’ It was a big run.”

Hampshire loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and Anthony Karbowski’s sacrifice fly tied the score and moved all three runners ahead. Burgess went to Quade Richards in relief and he wriggled out of troubled with a pair of called third strikes to send it to extra innings.

“For Quade to do that, bases loaded, one out and a 1-0 count, that’s gutsy,” Burgess said. “That’s the type of kid he is. I use him in that role and he’s stone-faced and competes. That’s a great team. To compete with them was great.”

Dixon jumped ahead 3-0 in the top of the third, but Hampshire rallied back to tie by the bottom of the fifth on Karbowski’s RBI single. He drove in three for the game.

Simoncelli thought about the situation but stuck with Schane heading into the seventh because he had been so dominant. He finished with 79 pitches.

“This was his first long outing this year,” Simoncelli said. “We had him on a bit of pitch count. We talked about it, it’s tough to pull a guy when they’re doing so well.

“He can throw any of his pitches for strikes. As coaches, we feel when he’s out there we have a chance, because he can locate in and out, up-down, he’s not going to blow you away with the fastball, but it does look a little faster once you see his fastball or changeup.”

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