Waubonsie Valley Steals One From No. 23 South Elgin

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

SOUTH ELGIN, IL - The old walk-off play. The play occurs when a team has base runners on first and third. The runner on first intentionally walks-off first base to get picked off, in hopes of drawing a throw from the pitcher. If the play works, the pitcher throws to first or runs at the base runner. The runner on third will race toward the plate, with hopes of beating the return throw to home plate, thus stealing a run.

In a battle of Upstate 8 Conference Valley Division tri-leaders, Waubonsie Valley’s Jacob Hennessey and Garret Howicz worked the play to perfection, In the top half of the eighth inning, with the score knotted at 1-1, Howicz coaxed a leadoff walk from South Elgin pitcher Max Keough (2-1). Nick Price laid down a beautiful sac-bunt, moving the larcenous Howicz to second. After Waubonsie Valley winning pitcher Ryan Jones (1-0) flew out for the second out of the inning, starting pitcher Brandon Petersen (2-for-3, RBI) was walked intentionally. With Paul Vickers at the plate, Howicz swiped third on a bang-bang play. Waubonsie Valley coach Bryan Acevedo called on Hennessey to run for Petersen, at first base. Hennessey walk-off first, Keough ran directly at Hennessey and the elusive Howicz raced toward home and slid across the plate, stealing his Warriors a 2-1 lead.

 “I was just watching the pitcher and swiped third base” said Howicz. “On the walk-off play I waited until the pitcher turned his back on me and then raced home with the game-winner. When Hennessey came in and coach and said the play was on, I was ready to go”

Jones (2.1 IP, 0R, H, 4K, 2BB) made things very interesting in the South Elgin bottom of the eighth. South Elgin's’ Dan Asa (1-for-3, R, SB, BB) walked to leadoff the inning. Asa advanced to second on a sac-bunt, from Joe Robertson (1-for-2, RBI, BB). Jones picked up his third strikeout for the second out of the inning, before walking Kevin Berry. With Mitch Butvilas at the plate, a wild pitch moved Asa and Berry into scoring position. With the winning runs on base, on a 3-2 count, Jones struck out Butvilas to end this classic high school baseball game. Kudos to all who played in it.

“I was getting the outside corner on my fastball, so I kept putting it on the corner,” Jones said. “It was really exciting out there at the end and I was able to strike out the last batter and get us this huge win.”  

Both Waubonsie Valley (8-2, 4-0) and South Elgin (6-1, 3-1) entered the contest tied for the top-spot in the U8C-Valley with Bartlett (6-3, 3-0). Keough and Petersen both 2-0, hooked up in a classic pitcher’s duel. Petersen got the Warriors on the board in the first inning, with a clutch two-out RBI single to center to put the Warriors up 1-0. With nobody out in the South Elgin fourth, Robertson singled home Asa, who had singled and stole second, to tie the game at 1-1.

Petersen worked into the sixth when he was replaced by Jones with two outs. Petersen allowed a run and three hits in his stellar 5.2 innings on the mound.

“Wow. What a game,” Petersen said. “I had trouble in the early innings but battled out there and pitched a good game. I have been hitting very well this spring and I was very happy to drive home the big run, in the first inning.”

Keough (2-1) went the distance for South Elgin, firing 7.2 innings, allowing just two runs and five hits with eight strikeouts.

“I am very unhappy with the outcome of the game,” South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. “We did not execute our plays today and fortunately it is early and we have time to correct our mistakes. Max Keough was outstanding for us tonight.”

The two clubs will meet in Aurora at Waubonsie Valley on Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m. and return here to South Elgin at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday

“This was a great win for us. Jacob (Hennessey) and Garret (Howicz) pulled off the Old Walk-off Play to perfection,” Acevedo said. ”Garret has such a high IQ for the game. Brandon (Petersen) didn’t have his best stuff tonight but battled to the end for us. Ryan (Jones) did a great job in relief for us.” 

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