Baseball: Conant downs Hersey for 1st MSL West title in 25 years

Leadoff man Jake Parpet caught the third pitch of the game perfectly on the barrel for a home run to dead center field to kickstart Conant in Friday afternoon’s Mid-Suburban League crossover baseball showdown at Hersey.

Parpet also caught the 109th pitch from senior left-hander Logan Gale for a strikeout that not only ended a 10-3 victory for the Cougars (19-7, 11-4) but also their 25-year drought between MSL West titles. Senior cleanup man Matt Maize homered, doubled and drove in 3 runs to help secure their spot in next Thursday’s league championship game for the first time since they won their only MSL crown in 1999.

“I feel I can speak for all three of us, but we’ve been fighting for this since our freshman year,” Parpet, a four-year starter, said alongside Gale and Maize. “We came in today to take care of business, and as we say, the job isn’t finished.”

Parpet’s leadoff homer for the second straight game and seventh of the year fueled a 4-run first against the defending MSL champion Huskies (18-11, 11-4), who dropped a game back in the East of Buffalo Grove (16-11, 12-3), a 10-0 winner over Schaumburg. Isiah Rhodes’ single and Maize’s double set up Alex Martinez’s RBI single lost in the sun and a sacrifice fly by Cooper Hanson (2-for-2).

Gale, who had seen limited action coming off an elbow injury four months ago, told Conant coach Derek Fivelson there were no restrictions Friday. He didn’t allow a run after Hersey got within 5-3 in the second and finished with 8 strikeouts.

“After the 3 runs I let up I said, ‘I’ve gotta fight and keep going for the team,” Gale said. “I didn’t want to lose that game.”

The lefty-hitting Maize helped restore the cushion to 8-3 when he blasted a 2-run homer to right-center in the fourth.

“This team has very strong chemistry,” Maize said.

Gale left Drew Phillips at third with two outs in the second and the Huskies had only one baserunner reach second the rest of the way. They still have a shot to meet Conant for the MSL crown but would need to beat Fremd and have BG lose to Barrington on Monday.

“We’re not playing our best ball but I thought we did a better job today of making the pitcher work with competitive at-bats,” said Hersey coach Wally Brownley. “We were very charitable at times and against a good team you can’t give them extra baserunners. Their top 4-5 (hitters) can really stick.”

Gale was also backed defensively with nice plays from Maize in left field, Hanson at shortstop and Josh Barnett at third base. And Elk Grove’s 7-2 win Thursday at Barrington, the winner of the last 10 West titles, opened the door for a celebratory post-game team photo for Conant, which won its other MSL division crown in 1971.

“I’m extremely happy for our senior class and it’s been three years in the making,” Fivelson said. “We knew we had a shot this year. It’s not easy to do. This was our time and these guys deserved it.”

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