Baseball: CL South wins wild 13-9 game over Cary-Grove
Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South were locked into a clean, tight, two-run Fox Valley Conference baseball game Monday heading into the sixth inning.
The fifth inning breezed by with C-G reliever Peter Conneen working a perfect top, striking out two and throwing 14 pitches. Gators starter Mark DeCicco fanned three Trojans on 11 pitches in the bottom.
And then, the engine sputtered oil all over, the wheels fell off and the vehicle ended up in a ditch.
South scored nine runs, all after two outs, with the benefit of four hits, only one of which left the infield. The Trojans came back with seven of their own, with four hits and four walks.
By the time the 50-plus-minute inning was over, the teams could not finish the seventh. The Gators added two more in the top of the inning before the game was called because of darkness, making South a 13-9 winner.
"It was a 4-2 game and all of a sudden just kind of got out of hand," Gators coach Brian Bogda said. "It was a bad sixth inning. I attribute that to a lack of games, a lack of opportunities to play.
"My overall thought on the game is I'm really proud of the way we bounced back from a really tough loss on Saturday."
South (4-2, 2-1 FVC) lost that game despite a 13-strikeout performance from Ysen Useni over 4 2/3 innings. C-G's Ben Hurt Haller delivered a key two-run homer off Useni in that game.
The Gators bounced back behind DeCicco's nine-strikeout, no-walk outing on Monday. One crucial play for South came with two outs in the sixth and the bases loaded.
DeCicco hit a high chopper to C-G third baseman Nolan Pociejewski, who raced the Gators' Joey McEnery to the bag. McEnery slid is just ahead of Pociejewski's diving tag on the base.
The Gators sent nine more batters to the plate.
"Our team, it's a domino effect, one guy gets on, one guy gets a big hit, the rest of the lineup's hitting," said leadoff man Ryan Skwarek, who was 3 for 4 and was hit by pitches twice.
Mason Struck delivered the big blow for South, a line drive double center that Hurt Haller just missed on a diving attempt. That brought in three runs.
DeCicco, who had thrown 77 pitches, left after the fifth inning.
"I was trying to pound the zone with strikes and get balls in play," DeCicco said. "I know my infield, Mason Struck (second base), Dayton Murphy (shortstop) and Ryan Skwarek (third base) and I had faith in them and knew I could go at them."
Three South relievers struggled through the sixth. Vinny Lutz and Pociejewski drove in runs, then Antonio SantaCruz ripped a two-RBI double and Toby Splitt doubled after him, making it 13-9.
Bogda thought it was still good to see some lesser-used pitchers get some mound experience.
"Some of the guys who came into pitch on both sides probably haven't thrown a lot," Bogda said. "I did that. We just haven't had enough innings."
James Allie came in to get a ground ball for the final out against C-G (5-4-1, 1-2).
"I gave our kids credit, we battled back and scored some runs and gave ourselves a chance," Trojans coach Ryan Passaglia said. "It got to the point where we're not real deep pitching-wise. It's one of those games, we'll move on and not worry about it too much.":
C-G turned a 5-3-5 double play on a sharp line drive in the first and then had Lutz, in right field, catch a fly ball and fire to catcher Nate Crick for a double play, getting South's Chris Kahle trying to score.
"(South) was hitting the ball all day though," Passaglia said. "We got out of some jams early with some nice defensive plays. Teams hitting like that eventually catches up to you. We weren't real sharp pitching today."