Baseball: O'Keefe a relief as Barrington edges Schaumburg in 9
Barrington coach Pat Wire has been looking for a solid reliever for his team. And it looks like he found one Monday in Schaumburg.
Connor O'Keefe came on in the eighth inning for Barrington and faced just six batters. Meanwhile the Broncos erupted for 4 runs in the top of the ninth for a 5-1 victory.
"I was a little nervous coming out there," O'Keefe said. "I felt like my legs were shaking a little bit. But I am pitcher and I am prepared well enough."
With Barrington's Brooks Gosswein and Schaumburg's Jack Bellinger on the mound for their teams, the expectation was pitcher's duel between them. And while Gosswein and Bellinger didn't disappoint, battling to a 1-1 tie after 7, it was O'Keefe that stole some of the thunder.
Gosswein was solid for Barrington through 7 innings. He threw 103 pitches, 67 for strikes, allowing just 1 run and 2 hits.
O'Keefe came on after Wire contemplated the decision of who to pitch in the eighth.
"We found O'Keefe on Thursday," Wire said. "He looked good last Thursday and he looked good in Florida, so it was time to go with him."
O'Keefe said he was ready after warming up in the bottom of the seventh.
"I didn't expect to pitch at all today," O'Keefe said. "But I am always ready, especially with the reliever role."
Barrington (11-4, 4-0) was able to pull away in the ninth when Bellinger, who had thrown 96 pitches through the first 8 innings with 70 of those going for strikes, started to tire.
Bellinger,who struck out nine, gave up a lead off walk in the ninth, but picked off the pinch runner. He then surrendered a single to Patrick Dehnert and a walk to Jacob Chapman before giving way.
"I couldn't be more proud of Jack," Schaumburg coach Cal Seely said. "He pitched an incredible ball game and exceeded our expectations. We just couldn't get him any help."
Barrington kept up the momentum when it loaded the bases on an infield error. The Broncos quickly capitalized as Zack Balogh executed a perfect squeeze play, scoring pinch runner Alex Rose.
"I got up there and I wasn't thinking squeeze at all," Balogh said. "I just had to do my job and do what I did."
Balogh's bunt was so good that he was able to beat it out for a single. Collin Starval followed with a 2-run single and Blake Swanson had an RBI single to make it 5-1.
Before that, the game belonged to Gosswein and Bellinger. Illinois State, where Bellinger has committed, came to watch the two powerhouse pitchers along with Illinois, Miami of Ohio, Xavier, Butler and Western Michigan.
"It took me a few innings to get my mojo flowing," said Gosswein. "I felt that after the first 3 innings I settled in."
Schaumburg (8-5, 2-2) got to Gosswein for a run in the first. Andrew Ralston singled, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out. He then scored on the Saxons' only hit until the seventh inning, when Parker Nolan drilled a fastball to right-center.
Barrington tied it in the second when Chapman belted an 0-2 fastball over the left-field fence to tie the game.
"It felt great," Chapman said, "I was looking fastball all the way."
Wire was impressed by all the pitching.
"It was a great game all the way," Wire said. "The pitching for both teams was terrific."