Baseball: Murphy musters up a winner for Mundelein
Pitching in big situations last season only made him stronger.
And on a chilly and damp Tuesday afternoon in Lincolnshire, that experience paid nice dividends for Mundelein junior ace Brendan Murphy.
Murphy set down nine Stevenson batters and held off a mini-rally by the Pats in the bottom of the seventh to preserve a 2-1 North Suburban Lake baseball victory.
"It was a little iffy early in the game," said Murphy, who improved to 5-2 on the year while the Mustangs hiked their mark to 14-6 overall and 3-2 in the division. "But as the game went on, I started getting the ball down in the zone and was just trying to see the dime in the glove (of battery mate Reid Rubio). We didn't have that many hits but we had quality at-bats."
Murphy went the distance allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks to go along with those 9 punch-outs.
And when not on the mound, some of those quality at-bats were by Murphy himself, banging out 2 doubles on the day for Mundelein, who mustered only 4 hits themselves off Pats starter Justin Stark.
After a scoreless first 3 innings, Murphy and the boys finally got a little jolt when sophomore left fielder Jeff Morton laced a towering shot over the right field fence for a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth.
"That definitely got our competitive juices going," said Mundelein skipper Todd Parola, whose team hosts the Pats at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. "We have to have a certain spirit and today we battled through some tough situations. But neither pitcher deserved to lose that game."
The Mustangs got what turned out to be a huge insurance run in the top of the fifth frame.
With two outs, senior right fielder Reese Dolan (single) raced home on a squeeze bunt off the bat of senior shortstop Jake Breitenreiter to make it 2-0.
But this is Stevenson, and you know they aren't going to go down without making some noise.
After striking out the side in the bottom of the fifth, the Pats finally got their first hit off Murphy in the sixth when junior centerfielder Henry Marchese beat out an infield single.
Two batters later, Marchese galloped home when senior third bagger Patrick Loeffler roped a double by Morton in left field.
Stevenson (13-5-1, 5-2) had a chance to do more damage but Rubio gunned down Loeffler, who tried for third after a Murphy pitch was in the dirt.
Then, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, senior left fielder Dylan Molek started things off beating out an infield single. Two batters later, Molek went to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior right fielder Jack Cappalli.
But Murphy got the next batter to ground out to end the threat and the game.
"We didn't have any timely hits and our offense needs to execute better in the middle innings," said Stevenson coach Patrick Block, who was quick to sing the praises of his pitcher.
Stark, who hadn't allowed an earned run until the fourth inning today, fell to 5-1 on the year. He went all 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits while fanning 5 Mustangs on the afternoon.
"He's our leader, our captain, and one of the best pitcher's in the state," said Block.