Baseball: Hersey downs Maine West
"Out of the frying pan, into the fire."
It's an old saying that applied to Hersey as it got ready to host Maine West in a nonconference baseball matchup Saturday morning.
The Huskies were coming off a tough home Mid-Suburban League crossover loss to Palatine two days earlier as they entertained a Warrior squad that had gone 6-1-1 after a 1-6 start to its season.
Fortunately for the home team, it harnessed that fire early and kept it at a steady burn as it saw an early lead go by the wayside only to regain it to post an 8-4 triumph in Arlington Heights.
"I knew these guys (Maine West) were playing well. I didn't make it easy for us as far as our nonconference games go," second-year Huskies coach Wally Brownley said.
After Maine West (7-8-1) rallied to even things up at 4 apiece with 2 runs in the top of fourth, Hersey answered back to take the lead for good on a Trey Schmidt fielders choice that brought Daniel Kubsik home in the bottom of the frame.
The Huskies then exploded for three more runs in their half of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Will Adamski that drove in Hunter Luke, followed by an RBI groundout by Kubsik which brought home Daniel Clawson. Left fielder Luke Pichiotti closed out the scoring when he doubled in James Denten, giving Hersey (10-8) a 4-run cushion.
Caleb Bontje's winning effort on the mound buoyed Hersey throughout the morning. The 5-foot-11 junior would fan 5 in six innings of work.
"I'm really proud of Caleb today," Brownley said." Caleb's a guy whose pitched mostly in relief for us this year, but he gets the start and does the job."
Bontje credited his success to having command of his pitching arsenal.
"My fastball was down and moving a lot and they were really struggling with that and my changeup and curve were getting over," Bontje said. "It was a lot more helpful though that the wind was blowing in. Even if they're hitting (the ball) hard, our fielders can make plays."
Kubsik closed out the game for the Huskies with a 1-2-3 seventh for the save.
The Warriors, who were missing head coach Mike Randazzo as he was mourning the passing of his grandmother with his family, could only look at the missed opportunities they had in the game as they left nine runners on base, seven in scoring position.
"We put ourselves in a position to score some runs in a few innings," assistant coach Ryan Willett said. "We just didn't come up with the clutch hit when we needed it and it was kind of the difference."
An appreciative Brownley lauded his team's effort.
"I'm happy we responded, because I thought we got that lead and sat on it a little bit. I get a little fired up in here (the dugout) because I want them to go after it. We'll take them anyway we can get it."