Baseball: Allen's gem helps Hersey close in on MSL East title
Jeremy Allen helped Hersey inch just a bit closer Tuesday.
Allen struck out 13 and allowed just one unearned run as Hersey topped Elk Grove 4-1 in Arlington Heights. The win moved the Huskies (18-8, 9-4) to within one game of clinching their first Mid Suburban East title since 2012.
"I tell these guys and I am sure they are tired of hearing it," Hersey coach Wally Brownley said. "It would be a great legacy for them. But we have to take care of business this week."
Hersey plays Elk Grove on Wednesday, followed by Palatine on Thursday and Barrington next Monday. Hersey holds a one-game East division lead over Buffalo Grove and a two-game lead over Elk Grove (12-9, 7-6).
Hersey can wrap up the division title with a win over Elk Grove on Wednesday. The Huskies hold the tiebreaker advantage with Buffalo Grove after beating the Bison twice this season. They also hold the tiebreaker with Prospect, who trails the Huskies by two games.
"We got a couple big hits in the first inning," Brownley said. "We had a pair of innings where we had two-out, two-run innings."
Hersey is in this position, thanks in part, to the pitching by Allen.
The junior has been terrific all season long, upping his record to 7-0 on the season. He also has not allowed an earned run in his last three games.
"We had hit a little lull last week," Brownley said. "We were looking to get back on track. Jeremy Allen is our number one for a reason. He has been fantastic. He has been our stopper. Anytime we slide and we have him out there, we are good to go."
Allen silenced the Elk Grove bats on Tuesday. He allowed just three hits, with his fastball topping out at 90 MPH.
"My catcher Brick (Bryk Barnard) kept his glove in a place and tried to hit it every time," Allen said. "I was attacking the hitters. I like to get ahead in the count so they don't know what is coming."
Allen, who pitched in limited relief role last year as sophomore said that this year, has been a huge difference in the way he pitches.
"I had trouble finding the zone last year," Allen said. "I didn't get as many opportunities. But this year I took advantage of the opportunities I have had."
Allen got some breathing room from his teammates in the bottom of the first.
Brandon Pflomm doubled home Will Hickey, who had been hit by a pitch earlier. Pflomm then came home to score on David Denten's single to make it 2-0.
"We play better in the warm weather," said Denten, who had two of Hersey's 10 hits.
"The warm weather just gets us going."
It remained that way until the top of the sixth when Elk Grove tried to tie the game.
David Garza walked and went to second Mitch Janczak's single with no outs. Allen then retired the next two batters.
He could have possibly got out of the inning on a ball hit by Matt Martorano. But the field gremlins got ahold on the ball as it hit the ground and then ricocheted high into the air. The ball then completely flattened out and after two hops, slid under a glove for an error and a run scored.
The play also put runners on second and third. But Allen got out of the jam, striking out the next batter to end the threat.
Hersey got a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning. Drew Phillips singled and later scored on Keegan Luxem's sacrifice fly. Pinch runner Brady Klehr, who was running for Denton, who had singled, would then score on a throwing error.
"Allen did a good job against us," Elk Grove coach Steve Lesniak said. "We had a chance late in the game, but just couldn't get another run across. We will be back at it at our place. We need to win and then get some help."