Hersey stays hot, rallies to upend No. 10 Simeon

By Sean Duncan

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – Somehow, Hersey has managed to fly under the radar, despite its run of impressive victories this season.  

On Saturday, the Huskies conclusively proved that they are for real after they rallied from a 7-2 fifth-inning deficit to upend No. 10 Simeon, 9-8, in a wild eight-inning nonconference affair.

Hersey, which improved to 12-1, showed little life through the first five innings against Simeon sophomore left-hander Darius Day. But when Day left the game, the Huskies rallied for five runs in the sixth inning to tie the game, then answered Simeon’s run in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

The Huskies put the final touches on their comeback when pinch-runner Nick Heeren scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

“Baseball is a screwy game,” said Hersey coach Bob Huber. “You’re never out of a game, and you’re never completely in control of the game. … There’s no quit in them. They’re good athletes and they’re a cohesive group.”

Hersey’s victory over Simeon (12-5) capped an impressive – and exhausting – week for the Huskies. Last week they defeated neighborhood rival St. Viator, Loyola,Fremd, and swept a two-game series with Prospect.

Huber said he’s fine with his club flying under the radar, so to speak. But he did expect the 2012 campaign to be a successful one.

“I don’t know if I sensed this, winning 12 of 13 games,” he said. “But this is a senior group with a lot of experience. I felt we’d be pretty good. I would’ve been disappointed if we weren’t.”

On Saturday, Simeon seemed to be in complete control from the outset. In the top of the first, the Wolverines mounted a 3-0 lead when junior outfielder Corey Ray ripped a two-out, opposite-field three-run homer. Ray, the No. 1-ranked junior in the state, finished 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI.

Simeon expanded its lead to 7-2 in the fifth when it pushed three more runs across on a run-scoring single by Oakland-bound outfielder Shane Brown (2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs) and a sacrifice fly by Day.

And speaking of Day, the state’s No. 1-ranked sophomore was dominant on the mound. In five innings work, he struck out eight, walked three and yielded two hits, one which was an infield squibber. Day had Hersey’s offense off balance with an impressive three-pitch blend of fastballs (83-86 mph), curveballs (68-71 mph) and changeups (74-76 mph with late fade).

But when junior right-hander Elbert Dunnigan came in to pitch the sixth, Hersey’s offense came to life. In the sixth, the Huskies pounded out four hits, including a two-run double by senior Trevor Haas.  Senior right-fielder Nick Nolan also had a run scoring double, followed by run-scoring singles by Miami Ohio-bound shortstop Tyler Perkowitz and junior second baseman David Milligan. Milligan’s hit knotted the game at 7-7.

Simeon bounced back to reclaim the lead in the seventh when Eastern Illinois-bound shortstop Marshawn Taylor scored on a wild pitch. Hersey came right back in the bottom half to tie the game on a wild pitch as well. The Huskies looked like they had the game in regulation when they loaded the bases with no outs. Dunnigan got a strikeout, then Nolan lofted a ball to left field – the runner on third tried to tag on Day. Bad decision. Day fired a laser to the plate to send the game into extra innings.

Nolan, the team’s No. 9 hitter, homered in the third inning, and finished 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Senior first baseman Sean Reszotko and Milligan each had two hits apiece as well.

Much of Hersey’s success has stemmed from its frontline pitching of Dartmouth-bound Mike Danielak and senior right-hander Trevor Haas. Although Haas (3-0) didn’t have his best outing against Simeon, he certainly looks to be one of the better unsigned pitchers in Illinois. Haas commands the strike zone with three pitches, all with movement. On Saturday, his fastball topped at 86 mph, sitting around 83-84 for much of his five innings. Haas, who struck out six, had outdueled All-State Prospect RHP Jack Landwehr in a 1-0 victory earlier in the week.

“He’s going to pitch somewhere next year,” said Huber. “He’s been great for us.”

Hersey’s only loss this season was when it blew a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning against Highland Park.

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