Baseball: Maine West's Cabral closes door on Vernon Hills
If you were to go online to check out the season schedules for both of the varsity baseball programs from Vernon Hills and Maine West you'd find the same thing that would've seen on other varsity baseball and softball team's websites around the area this spring: cancellations, postponements and rescheduled dates which comes to nearly 20 between the two teams.
For Vernon Hills coach Eric Levin, it's been having a home field which features a turf infield that's cut that number down to six games on the campaign.
"Everybody's been dealing with the same thing, so we've been fortunate we have a little bit of turf here that we can play through," Levin said. "But one of the hardest things is not getting quality practice reps. For us when we can start to get a rhythm of that and routine off that we know it's going to really help us to fine-tune everything."
Levin took his CSL North Division leading unit to Des Plaines for a date with a Maine West squad that was attempting to snap a five-game losing streak and jump start its season.
Thanks in part to their ability to get their bats turned on, the Warriors were able to build a lead in the early innings. That in concert with some timely hurling in the later stages helped Maine West snap its skid with a 9-8 decision Tuesday evening on their home turf located on the southwest portion of their campus on the corner of Wolf Road and Howard Ave.
"We've been in the same exact game for the last month," Maine West coach Mike Randazzo said. "We've been winning every single game and then we're starting to walk (batters) and make errors. We've had a lot of injuries (where) we had to put guys in (different) positions that were not in their normal positions. Guys that haven't pitched in a while. (Jesse) Cabral came through huge in pitching those last three innings and I think maybe (here's) hoping getting this victory (that) the luck switches a little bit and we'll get some more." The host school (6-11, 2-9) grabbed that luck in building a 6-1 advantage through three innings. Maine West scored three runs in the bottom of the first, a single tally in its half of the second and a pair in the third.
The Cougars (13-11, 8-3) wouldn't simply go away quietly. They rallied with a trio of runs in both the fourth and fifth inning that pulled them within 8-7 before the two teams traded runs over the next two frames.
It was at that point Cabral shut the door on any hopes of a Cougars comeback as he retired the last six to preserve the win. He earned praise from Warriors first baseman John Rings who went 4-for-4 at the plate as a part of a Maine West attack that churned out 15 hits.
"It's huge," Rings said. "We needed that bullpen arm all year. It's been a struggle as of late but Jesse coming out and shutting it (down) in the last two innings is huge."