It's normal for a hitter to show some emotion as he rounds third base on his home run, just like Luke Adams did on Wednesday, fists pumping and vocal cords straining with cheers of joy.
It's also normal for teammates to envelope a home run hitter in hugs and high-fives as he crosses the plate, just as Adams' teammates did in the wake of his very clutch seventh-inning home run, which sealed Mundelein's 7-5 North Suburban Conference Lake Division road win over Libertyville.
What might be a bit unusual is that the Mustangs, now 19-1 on the season and 7-1 in the division, were in good practice by the time Adams demanded their cheers. The entire team had been emotional and energetic and ramped up for most of the game already.
"I was pretty fired up and so was everyone," said Adams, who was extra excited since the home run was his first of the season. "This is the biggest game of the season. It's always great to beat Libertyville. They always come out and compete with us.
"We knew we had to stay really focused and into the game. Our coaches were telling us to just keep it up, to stay in the game and not take anything for granted."
Libertyville had every reason to approach the game the exact same way, having suffered a 10-0 slaughter rule defeat to Mundelein just 24 hours earlier.
But just as the Wildcats could have used an Adams-like home run in their final at-bats, they also could have used some of Mundelein's energy and emotion.
It was arguably the difference-maker.
"It all came down to the intensity in the dugouts," said Libertyville first baseman Kevin Calamari, who went 2-for-3 on the day. "They just wanted it more and that's what hurts the most. You could see it in their dugout. They were up and yelling with almost every pitch the whole game, and they were behind every guy.
"Yesterday, we started off on the wrong foot and were just out of it from the very beginning. Today, we had a better start, but I just don't know if, as a team, we're all looking at the same goal, like it seems Mundelein is. We have to look inside ourselves as a team and figure out what we're playing for."
The Wildcats were upbeat early, taking a 3-0 lead after two innings, thanks to a 3-run home run by No. 9 hitter Matt Reed.
But Mundelein came storming back with 4 runs in the top of the third inning, all of which were scored with two outs. Adams and Ryan Dolan both drove in a run and Mitch Schulewitz drove in 2 runs with a screaming single to right field that was mishandled. That cleared the bases and allowed him to get to third.
Libertyville (14-6 overall, 3-3 NSC Lake Division) immediately tied the game up at 4-4 when Matt Vogt drilled a home run in the bottom of the third. But over the next few innings, the Wildcats' offense went cold and their defense put up 2 of their 3 errors. Meanwhile, Mundelein kept plugging away, scoring a run in three of the final four innings.
With an RBI-single by Jimmy Govern, Libertyville cut its deficit to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth. But Adams gave Mundelein extra cushion with his shot to center field.
"This was an exciting game and it was good for us to find a way to win," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "We scored enough runs and that 2-run cushion we had after Luke's big home run going into the bottom of the seventh made a big difference."
Mundelein pitcher Adam Turner got the save after shutting down Libertyville with three straight outs in the bottom of the seventh.
"After that home run (by Adams), I knew we were going to win," Turner said. "It was a dream come true because it was perfect timing and it gave me a lot more confidence (for the bottom of the seventh)."
Starter Spencer Ryan got the win for Mundelein. He went 5 innings and had 4 strikeouts.
"Today is harder to take because yesterday, you look at (a 10-0 loss) as kind of an anomaly," Libertyville coach Jim Schurr said. "Today, we're soul-searching a bit right now. Man-for-man, we've got a really good team and we were in this game, but we have guys who are making goofy mistakes and pressing a bit and maybe just not where they should be (mentally)."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.