Baseball: Edwardsville turns tables on Mundelein in state title game
Edwardsville turned the tables on Mundelein Saturday in the Class 4A state title game Saturday in Joliet.
Mundelein had won four previous playoff games in its last at-bat. The Mustangs then had Edwardsville come up with that same magic, scoring two runs in the top of the seventh to beat Mundelein 4-3.
"I am so proud of the fight we have had all year," Mundelein coach Randy Lerner said. "We battled adversity and get here with some last inning heroics. It is phenomenal."
Caden Morton, the Mustangs' top reliever, was pushed into the starting role because ace Ryan Geraghty was unavailable due to pitch count rules. Geraghty had pitched Tuesday in the Mustangs' supersectional win and was not eligible to pitch.
Morton, who is a senior and will play at Milwaukee School of Engineering next season, took the challenge to heart. He pitched five solid inning, throwing a season-high 80 pitches.
"I tried my best," said Morton, who stranded six runners. "I hope it translated well. When I got to the dugout, I was overwhelmed with people who were proud of me."
Lerner was proud of the effort that Morton gave for his team.
"Caden has been phenomenal," Lerner said. "He is a senior and he has worked so hard. He has been our main relief guy. We aren't anywhere without him. So stepping in to start like that it was unbelievable to get that deep in the game."
Mundelein (29-6) had some opportunities in the first two innings. The Mustangs led off both innings with doubles but came up empty.
Michael Farina doubled in the first. He then went to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Edwardsville. But when Farina tried to score, he was thrown out at the plate.
In the second, Tommy Strickland doubled. But he was stranded at second when the Mustangs' next three hitters were out.
Meanwhile Morton was finding a way to keep his team in the game.
Edwardsville (36-4) had runners on first and second with out in the third. Morton ended that threat by striking out the Tigers' No. 2 and 3 hitters.
Edwardsville again threatened in the next inning. The Tigers loaded the bases thanks to a pair of bunt singles and a walk with two outs. Again Morton dug deep, striking out the next batter to put down that threat.
The Tigers finally got on the board in the top of fifth. With two outs Adam Powell powered an opposite field two-run homer to put Edwardsville up 2-0.
Mundelein surged ahead in its half of the inning.
The Mustangs loaded the bases when Christopher Callas reached on a one-out error. Jacob Buyse snuck a single through the left side of the infield and Connor Weik walked to load the bases.
Daniel Connelly followed with a double to left center that was just out of reach of the Edwardsville outfielder. Two runs scored on the play to tie the game at 2-2.
"I was just so in the zone," Connelly said. "The crowd was chanting my name. I saw a curveball and I stuck to what I have been doing. I just blasted it out there."
Lucas Ganan, who ran for Weik, would then score on Michael Farina's fielder's choice to make it 3-2.
Morton gave way after the fifth and Mundelein was able to hold on until the seventh when Edwardsville banged out a trio of hits and scored a pair of runs to pull ahead 4-3.
Mundelein still felt it had one comeback left. The Mustangs were able to get a baserunner, but just ran out of chances in their final at-bat.
"It was an unbelievable high school game," Lerner said, "Guys battled and kept both teams in the game. This is how a championship game should be."
Stricklin, who had a pair of doubles, said that he is proud of how his team performed in the playoffs.
"They played to their 21st out," said Stricklin, who will play at Iowa Western next season.
"We fought back in the end. We had a miracle run here, with four walk-offs in a row. I couldn't be prouder of my teammates. It is a great team, it is just rough that it has to end this way."
Brother Rice finished third in Class 4A after beating McHenry 14-4 in five innings.
In 3A, Nazareth Academy won the state title, beating Chatham Glenwod 5-1. In the third-place game, Washington beat Crystal Lake South 2-1.