Baseball: Coughlin pitches Lake Forest past Stevenson
There's not an emotion that Lake Forest pitcher Cal Coughlin is afraid to wear on his sleeve.
Easily excitable when things are going well, Coughlin is just as apt to get on himself when they're not.
"(The emotion) usually makes it better for me," Coughlin said. "It makes me realize that it's not going to be easy out there and that I have to battle to beat the guy in the box. Usually the emotions help."
A frustrated Coughlin, who has been on the recruiting radar since eighth grade and will be pitching at TCU next year, started yelling into his glove Monday afternoon, a self-inflicted reprimand of sorts, when he hit a rough patch against Stevenson in a Class 4A regional final at Palatine.
Coughlin had given up two straight triples in the bottom of the sixth inning and both of those hitters ultimately scored.
It was an interesting rally by the Patriots, but it got them nowhere close to undoing all the positive work that Coughlin had already done.
Thanks to lights-out pitching early by Coughlin and a binge of 5 runs in the second inning, sixth-seeded Lake Forest coasted to a 7-3 victory over No. 3 Stevenson, which had swept Lake Forest in two North Suburban Conference games during the regular season.
Lake Forest (20-13) advances to face No. 2 Mundelein at 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the Stevenson sectional semifinal.
"I wanted us to score first because I wanted to give the first big blow," said Coughlin, who is 7-4 on the mound. "It's felt like all year we've taken the first big blow. But today we scored five in the second and as a pitcher that was the best thing that could have happened. The way my guys came together today, I was so happy."
Coughlin finished with 11 strikeouts and allowed just 5 hits and 1 walk.
The Scouts got a nice balance offensively with 7 hits, including a double by Jason Cast that drove in the first run of the game. Lake Forest went through the order in the second inning, rolling up 4 hits and taking 3 walks from Stevenson starter Justin Stark, whose final record on the mound dropped to 6-3.
"Justin has pitched well for us all year. He was our go-to guy, our No. 1," Stevenson coach Patrick Block said. "But they beat him that inning. His mentality was good, but he just didn't have the same stuff he's had all year. I don't think he was tired. He didn't overpitch. He's the guy we trust in that situation.
"We've seen it before where he's given up a few hits and gotten out of it, but it didn't work out that way this time."
Lake Forest added 2 insurance runs in the fourth inning off a single by Drew Golde and a subsequent fielding error by the Patriots.
Stevenson cracked the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Patrick Loeffler opened with a triple and Robert McGaha drove him in. The Patriots then scored again in the sixth with two more triples, by Charlie Ling and Jack Cappalli to open the inning.
But, after firing himself up, Coughlin settled down and closed out that inning as well as the seventh inning with a couple of strikeouts.
"We were just trying to stay focused (in the sixth)," Cappalli said. "We were trying to get some runs across and just chip away. Charlie's triple at the beginning (of the sixth) was huge and then I just wanted to get him in and I got one.
"But it wasn't enough. This is a rough loss. I really thought we were going to go far this year."
Lake Forest coach Ray DelFava is optimistic about his team's chances for an extended run.
"Our guys are playing really well right now and they are motivated," DelFava said. "But as I just told them here, we accomplished a goal, but not the goal. They are of the mindset that they want to make this year even more special than where it is right now."