Baseball: Glenbard West thrilled to see Green
Glenbard West is coming home.
After the Hilltoppers were announced as a sectional host midway through the baseball season, a primary goal became to play in -- and not just work -- that sectional.
The goal became reality on Saturday when Glenbard West beat Glenbard North 7-1 to claim the Class 4A St. Charles East regional championship.
The 12th-seeded Hilltoppers (19-11), after winning their first regional title since 2011, advance to Wednesday's sectional semifinals to face Elk Grove, a winner over Willowbrook. The game will be at Village Green in Glen Ellyn...home sweet home.
"We didn't want to work it and not get a shot at it," said Glenbard West coach Andy Schultz. "The fact that we get to go home and play on our field now, we're real excited about it. We'll see what happens, but at least we have that opportunity."
Hilltoppers starting pitcher Logan Ryan, who struck out 10 in a 1-hitter, was the complete-game winner after escaping a tough first inning with only 1 run allowed. Glenbard West tied it in the second inning and later pulled away with a 3-run bottom of the sixth.
"As I got deeper into the game I felt more in control," Ryan said. "I felt like I could take over after that first inning. I just wanted to finish strong."
Ryan walked two and hit two batters in the top of the first. Anthony Ferreri scored for No. 13 Glenbard North (12-21) on a passed ball, but a pair of strikeouts stranded the bases loaded and helped Ryan settle into a stretch of retiring 18 of the last 20 batters he faced.
"We could have added a couple more there in the first inning, but Ryan was good," said Panthers coach Rich Smelko. "I'm proud of the way the our guys battled. No one expected us to be playing for a regional title."
Ryan's third-inning RBI single off Panthers starter Spencer Salamone was the game's first hit and gave the Hilltoppers a 3-1 lead. A bunt single by Gavin Hepner in the fourth inning scored Brett Potter with a fourth run.
Matt Shellady delivered a 2-run double and Joe Peraino followed with an RBI single to boost Glenbard West's lead to 7-1 in the sixth.
"We've been talking about this since we knew we were hosting it," Ryan said. "We really wanted to get back to VG and play more home games."