Baseball: Lake Zurich can't solve Hononegah in sectional semifinal
Lake Zurich senior second baseman Noah Short batted ninth for the Bears at the beginning of the season and then kept rising, rising, rising in the order.
Shortly before the end of the regular season, the left-handed hitter found himself batting leadoff.
Wednesday afternoon -- in his first at-bat against visiting Rockton Hononegah in a Class 4A baseball sectional semifinal -- Short's third homer of the spring mimicked his ascension in LZ's batting order.
But Hononegah's win total, not LZ's, climbed in summery conditions before packed sets of bleachers. The Indians defeated the Bears 7-4 and will host Huntley in a sectional final Friday afternoon.
Hononegah has never won a sectional title.
"I did not see that coming," Short said of his series of promotions from Bears coach Scott De Caprio.
Short (2-for-4) was in pain when he cracked his long ball in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday. Two pitches before ripping a pitch that was "a little up, a little in," he fouled a pitch off his right ankle, prompting him to hop around and ask the home plate umpire for some time to let the stinging sensation subside.
What stung LZ, the team: 4 errors, including a pair on the same play that plated a run to put Hononegah up 6-4 in the top of the fifth inning.
Hononegah (24-2) committed 2 of its 3 errors in LZ's 3-run fourth. Bears senior left fielder J.D. Carpenter (2-for-3, RBI) then struck a run-scoring double off the right-field wall to tie it at 4.
The visitors broke the stalemate in the top of the fifth, using a single, a Bears error and a balk to set up senior Ryan Whitledge's RBI bunt down the first-base line.
Indians senior infielder Gabe Roessler knocked in 4 runs, with the first 2 coming on a double to left-center in the first frame.
"We have speed, some pop, and we can bunt," Indians coach Matt Simpson said. "Our offense was relentless -- like it has been all season. We kept adding on and adding on, which was nice because the middle of Lake Zurich's batting order is awfully good."
Winning pitcher Scott Porter tossed 4 innings, allowing 2 earned runs and 5 hits while fanning 3 and walking 2. Reliever Braden Sayles fanned 3 in 3 scoreless innings.
LZ starter Tyler Johnson (6-2) took the loss, yielding 3 earned runs and 5 hits in 5 innings. He struck out 2 and walked 2. Bears sophomore lefty Lucas Foley -- LZ's youngest player -- struck out 3 and retired 6 of the 7 batters he faced.
LZ, the third-place team in the North Suburban Conference, finished with an 18-9 record.
"I've been coaching 20 years, and this is the closest group of kids I've ever had," De Caprio said. "They held each other accountable. They love the game and loved playing together.
"I'm just glad I got to be a part of it."