Baseball: Conant survives Schaumburg’s furious rally

As Yogi Berra famously said and as Lenny Kravitz famously crooned, "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over."

Which in the case of Conant's 12-10 win at Schaumburg in MSL West Division play Wednesday.

The visiting Cougars (10-3, 4-1) needed a defensive gem by senior shortstop Cooper Hanson on a fast-moving grounder by Schaumburg's Trey Teschner that quelled an attempted comeback by the home team. The Saxons had tallied seven runs in the bottom of the seventh after trailing 12-3 heading into their half of the final frame.

"I knew it was going to be a high scoring game but I didn't expect (it) to be because of the seventh inning," a relieved Conant coach Derek Fivelson said.

"We got comfortable. We obviously can't be walking guys and putting them back in a position to win the game."

In establishing that 12-3 lead, Conant used a successful mix of strong pitching, solid defense and productive hitting.

After a Colin Adams RBI double got the hosts on the board in the bottom of the first, the visitors got to Saxons starting hurler Brayden Mazzacano with a four spot in the top of the second. Two of those runs came in thanks to a two-bagger from junior catcher Josh Parpet that gave Conant a lead it wouldn't relinquish. It was followed by an Isaiah Rhodes RBI grounder and a Matt Maize single making it 4-1.

At their next at-bat in the top of the third, a Parpet single that drove in starting Cougar pitcher Bryce Loeger would end the day for Mazzacano as it expanded the Cougar advantage to 7-1. Back to back doubles by Logan Gale and Rhodes brought Gale in after Parpet had scored on a pass ball that gave Conant a five-run third which left them up 9-1 midway through the inning.

After Schaumburg (11-4, 3-2) added two runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull within 9-3, Conant would respond with a Jacob Szpignanowicz two-run homer in the top of sixth followed by a Rhodes RBI single to close out their side of the scoring before the Saxons made their comeback.

That late-inning surge began with three consecutive base on balls that set up an infield single by Hayden Adamowicz that brought Teschner in. That was followed by reserve catcher Joey Salatino being hit by a pitch that brought in a second run to make it 12-5.

After first baseman Danny Police reached first on a fielder's choice making it 12-6, consecutive singles by Lucas Tillotson and Nate Barnitz pulled the home team within 12-8 before a Jose Melchor triple made it 12-10.

Then Hanson's heroics saved the day for Conant.

Loeger fanned 7 while only surrendering four hits in a strong five-inning effort for the Cougars to pick up the win.

"I'm very proud of their effort. Our guys kept battling, competing. Conant is a quality opponent and their starter (Loeger) that they threw today was really good," Schaumburg coach Nick Kostalek said.

"All of our guys got an opportunity to play today and they took advantage of it which is a great thing to see. It's a great group. It's senior-led and they really set the tone and part of it is understanding our goals each day."

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