Baseball: Huntley cruises past DeKalb for regional championship

Facing DeKalb for a Class 4A DeKalb regional championship Friday afternoon at NIU, Huntley decided to flip the top hitters in the lineup.

The move paid dividends from the start, with the Red Raiders scoring four runs in the top of the first en route to an 8-0 win over the Barbs and a regional title.

“The offense is coming together. It’s good,” Huntley center fielder Ryan Dabe said. “It was my first time in the one hole, and I like it.”

Instead of batting in his usual No. 2 or No. 3 spot, Dabe handled leadoff duties while T.J. Jakubowski moved down to second. Dabe started the game with a double and scored on a single by Jakubowski as part of the four-run outburst, then Dabe singled in a run in a four-run third for the Red Raiders.

Jakubowski finished the game 2 for 3, Dabe was 3 for 4.

“We flipped him and TJ, we talked about it to give us a little more flexibility,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “And then you saw it with Ryan leading off the game with a double and TJ with a nice two-strike approach and getting the run home right there.”

The teams played at NIU’s baseball stadium instead of DeKalb High School because of the turf playing field. They got two innings in before a lightning delay lasted almost and hour and 15 minutes. In the bottom of the sixth, the umpires called the game when they spotted more lightning.

There was a powerful thunderstorm at the field less than 10 minutes after the game was called.

“We played bad for two innings and good for about four of them,” DeKalb coach Josh Latimer said. “You give up four in the first, you give up four in the third, against a team like that you can’t do that.”

Andy Jakubowski ended up using four pitchers in the game, and the Red Raiders allowed only one hit in the win. Malachi Paplanus pitched two innings but did not come back after the lightning delay. He retired the first four batters, walked the next three, but got a pickoff and a strikeout to escape the jam.

AJ Putty threw two innings, while Dabe and Colby Ashenbach each threw an inning.

“All of them controlled the strike zone,” Andy Jakubowski said. “We had a good game plan and our pitchers executed, all four of them, to put a zero up. It was a great all-around team win.”

DeKalb’s lone hit in the contest was a single by Jackson Kees in the top of the fifth. Kees also allowed four runs, three earned, in his two innings. He allowed six of the seven Red Raider hits in the game.

Andy Jakubowski said he liked the plan his team had against Kees, the Barbs’ ace throughout the season.

“Jackson actually threw really, really well,” Latimer said. “They were on him. A lot of those kids know him, they play travel ball together, and they kind of knew what he was going to bring to the table.”

The Red Raiders will face either Jacobs or Barrington at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 4A Hampshire sectional. They go into that sectional red-hot after Friday’s win and Wednesday’s 25-1 win over Jefferson.

“Putting up all those runs give the guys up and down the lineup just tons of confidence,” Dabe said. “That’s what we need.”

The season ended for the Barbs, and Latimer said he was pleased with how it went, which included its most successful season since joining the DuPage Valley Conference.

“We broke records left and right,” Latimer said. “Finished third in the conference, eight wins in the conference, 22 wins on the year which hasn’t been done in a long time. FIrst regional championship appearance in seven years. So I’m happy. We’re still young and we’re going to be back. Don’t sleep on DeKalb.”

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