The Crystal Lake South and Jacobs baseball teams traded walk-off winners Saturday in an intense doubleheader preview of their May 23 regional semifinal.
CL South (15-5, 12-5) took Game 1 when Tom Gaede singled to left-center field in the bottom of the eighth inning to score Jake Bigos for a 3-2 victory.
Jacobs (17-10, 9-7) salvaged the split when catcher Aaron Meciej laced a one-out single down the third-base line in the bottom of the seventh, scoring Grant Kale from second base for a 1-0 win. Kale led off with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Ledinsky.
"I just saw we had a guy on base and I visualized real quick to see what I could do," said Meciej, who leads the Golden Eagles with a .362 batting average. "I found a place for the ball to go, put it there and got that win."
"I couldn't be happier for Aaron Meciej," Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. "He's had an outstanding year and leads our team in hits. He did a great job and he did a nice job calling the game behind the plate."
Meciej's single off hard-luck losing pitcher Tyler Parquette (2-2) -- who went the distance, allowing only 1 earned on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 3 -- made a winner of Jacobs starting pitcher Reilly Peltier (1-0). He shut out the Gators on 5 hits and 3 walks and struck out 8.
"I had my fastball located well and my slider was working well, and me and Aaron worked well together," Peltier said after his 99-pitch outing. "It's mostly on Aaron because he has the experience catching these guys. I just did my part pitching, putting it where I could."
"It was a pitchers' duel both games, which is kind of what I expected," CL South coach Brian Bogda said. "It's tough for somebody to lose either of those games. We're pretty evenly matched teams and that's how it's been the last couple of years."
Huntley (23-3, 14-3) clinched at least a share of the FVC Valley title with CL South's Game 2 loss. The Red Raiders can clinch the title outright with a win in either of their 2 remaining division games against McHenry or with losses by Crystal Lake South and Cary-Grove (17-8, 11-5).
Ledinsky and CL South senior Eric Schiller both pitched well in the opener, though neither factored in the decision. Ledinsky limited the Gators to 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 6 innings. He allowed a solo home run to leadoff man Jake Bigos in the first inning, and Tyler Hall's single drove in a third-inning run.
Schiller held Jacobs to 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 7 innings. Greg Sidor's single scored Ben Murray to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning, and Ryan Sargent's sacrifice fly in the fourth inning scored Meciej to knot the score 2-2.
After CL South reliever Josh Fruhauf (2-1) pitched a scoreless top of the eighth, Bigos reached on a one-out single against Sargent (4-2) and moved to second on a wild pitch. Sargent threw a 3-2 breaking ball to Gaede that stayed up in the strike zone and the right-handed hitter drilled a single to left center to ignite the CL South celebration.
"It was a good pitch on 3-2 but he hung it a little," Gaede said. "I put a good swing on it and hoped the best would happen."