Winning vibe helps Stevenson past Glenbrook South
They try not to think about it, but you know it's in the back of their minds.
"It's kind of hard to ignore," said Stevenson senior pitcher Jake Nusinow, who is referring to the four state titles -- football, boys basketball, boys gymnastics and girls water polo -- that the school has won this school year.
And Nusinow and his Patriot teammates would love nothing more than to cap everything off with a championship in baseball this spring.
"That's obviously our goal and where we want to be," he said. "We don't get too excited, though. It's just one game at a time for us."
Whatever the formula, it's working well for the eighth-seeded Pats this postseason. Last weekend, Stevenson knocked off top-seeded Glenbrook North, and on Wednesday afternoon, the Pats ousted fifth-seeded Glenbrook South 6-0 in a Class 4A sectional semifinal in Lincolnshire.
Next up is a date with either Warren or Mundelein in the sectional title game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Stevenson.
Nusinow scattered just 4 hits while fanning two with no walks before being relieved after 5 innings by junior Tyler Pauly, who promptly retired the last six batters of the game.
"I was trying to hit my spots, keep the ball low and not overpower anything," said Nusinow, who improved to 5-0.
And it also helps when you have a potent offense cranking out 12 hits.
Junior outfielder Dylan Molek, hitting in the No. 9 spot, showed just why the opposition needs to pay close attention to everyone up and down the Stevenson lineup.
"I've got a great team and today was just my chance," said Molek, who went 3-for-3 with 2 RBI and 2 stolen baggies. "We're the underdog and we relish that role. We just take it to them."
Stevenson (26-11-1) didn't hesitate in doing just that.
Designated hitter Robert McGaha roped a double off the bottom of the right-field fence to start the top of the second, and it was on.
The next batter, outfielder Jimmy Marchese, laced a single to right-center field to bring home McGaha.
The Pats then struck for 2 more runs in the top of the third when Northwestern commit and senior third bagger Willie Bourbon jacked a double to the wall in left, scoring leadoff hitter Charlie Ling, who'd singled. With one out, McGaha hit a sacrifice fly to plate senior first baseman Carter Baretz, who'd reached on a fielder's choice.
Stevenson put another 2-spot on the board in the top of the fourth when Molek continued doing his thing, this time ripping a 2-run single to left that scored senior catcher Christian Dutler, who earlier singled, and Tyler Vincent, who was pinch-running for junior shortstop Patrick Loeffler (walk).
"We had good at-bats up and down the lineup," said Patriots coach Paul Mazzuca. "We're not swinging too big and we're doing all of the little things well. This was nice to beat them because they (Glenbrook South) eliminated us in the regional semis last year."
Stevenson scored its final run in the top of the sixth when Ling smacked a sacrifice fly to right to score Loeffler, who led off the frame with a beautiful bunt single down the third base line.
"Our defense was outstanding," said Mazzuca. "We're also getting the timely hitting and great pitching, and you need to do those well in order to advance."
The defense was indeed crisp, especially when Baretz, from a sitting position, calmly tossed to a covering Nusinow for a groundout in the bottom of the second. Senior left fielder Alex Hochman put the finishing touches on the victory with a nice running catch for the final out of the game.
Stevenson touched up Glenbrook South's starting pitcher, 6-foot-8 Fitz Stadler, for 5 runs on 9 hits before he was lifted after the fifth inning.
The Titans finished the year 23-11.