Baseball: Glenbard North goes from skid to streak
Fifteen games without a win.
A full season waiting for this moment.
The ups and downs of Glenbard North's baseball campaign hit a major high on Wednesday with a 5-2 upset victory over Wheaton North in the Class 4A St. Charles East regional semifinals.
The 13th-seeded Panthers (12-20) overcame a three-week span without a victory -- including three straight losses to No. 4 Wheaton North (23-10) -- to come within striking distance of their first regional title since 2015. They'll face Thursday's winner between Glenbard West and St. Charles East at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"I knew as long as I threw strikes, my team would do the rest," said Panthers complete-game winning pitcher Michael Betancourt. "We came into this game knowing we had a chance. We came here hyped and we were able to pick up a win."
It took until this week for the Panthers to regain their form from early in the season, starting with Monday's walk-off win over West Chicago in the regional quarterfinals.
On Wednesday, with their sophomore ace on the mound, it all fell into place. Marc Muller's two-out 2-run double in the top of the first inning gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead they never relinquished.
Justyn Orozco belted another two-out 2-run fifth-inning double and an error boosted Glenbard North's lead to 5-1.
Betancourt took it from there. With the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh, the right-hander got his sixth strikeout to end the game.
"We just kept telling our kids to keep persevering and keep doing the little things right," said Panthers coach Rich Smelko. "In the end those little things add up and pay big dividends."
Wheaton North stranded eight runners, five in scoring position. Carson Roberts doubled in a run in the bottom of the fourth inning and Jay Gail added an RBI double in the sixth.
"We knew we were going to have to play well, and they just played a little better than us," said Falcons coach Dan Schoessling. "We've had two really good years with these guys and two tough losses. It's a really good group. We're going to miss them a lot."