Last week’s Class 4A regional championship contest at Maine South between the host Hawks and top-seeded Evanston literally ended up being played over a span of two months.
That’s because the game, originally scheduled on Saturday, May 30, carried over to June 1 after umpires called it in the bottom of the third due to rain with Maine South at bat, two outs, runners at first and second and the Wildkits leading, 2-1.
A ground-out left those baserunners stranded and ended the inning when play resumed, but the ninth-seeded Hawks had Evanston on the ropes when the matchup moved into the top of the seven.
Two Evanston errors in the inning—one an infield error and the other a dropped fly ball in right field—put Maine South in the driver’s seat as the Wildkits held on to their one-run lead. The Hawks eventually loaded the bases with one out and were poised to at least tie the game, if not take the lead.
However, the next Hawk hitter struck out. Then, with two outs, senior Jake Scarpelli hit a liner that went off Evanston pitcher James Allen’s glove and right to Wilkkits’ shortstop Charlie Maxwell. With the ball in his glove, Maxwell dove and tagged second base, just barely ahead of a sliding Caleb deMarigny to end it.
The Wildkits advanced to the Niles West sectional and lost in the sectional championship game to Oak Park-River Forest, 4-0 in 11 innings, last Saturday.
“I told these guys, ‘That’s a big hurdle; that’s one of the hotter teams in our sectional right now and to get by them is a big deal,” said Evanston coach Frank Consiglio, referring to Maine South.
“This team is an experienced group, and there’s never a situation that gets too big for them. And that’s why I was surprised when we didn’t make the play in right field and we didn’t make the play at third base because they have been in these situations all year.”
Needless to say, it was a tough way to end the year for Maine South, which finished 19-13.
“He (deMarigny) said he was safe, but it is what it is,” said Maine South coach Bill Milano. “For whatever reason, the baseball gods didn’t want it to happen. You give yourself opportunities (to win), but we just didn’t get that big hit.
“We did everything we could. He’s (Scarpelli) been great for us in that role all year; he’s pinch-hit, he’s DH’ed. For whatever reason, it wasn’t meant to be.”
The Hawks left 11 runners on base, but did make it a one-run game in the fourth. Jarrett Gustafson drew a walk, stole second and scored when Alec Munce slapped a single to right.
Evanston (28-8-1), which set a single-season school record for most victories, pushed across its two runs in the May 30 portion of the game, scoring an unearned run in the first and another run in the second. Junior right-hander Kyle Zajdel, however, shut the door on Evanston when the game resumed June 1.
“We just had to shut them down because I knew the seniors would fight back and try to get the win,” said Zajdel, who posted a 5-3 record this season.
The seniors were part of a class that helped the Hawks advance to the supersectionals in 2013. Last year’s club won 25 games and made it to the sectional semifinals, where Evanston once again ended their season.
“We have a great bunch of guys,” Milano said. “It’s a nice group of kids and we have eight guys who are going to play at the next level.”
Among them is catcher Zach Parker, who’ll be playing collegiate ball at Division II Lewis University. Six seniors are going to DIII schools.
“I wish we were still playing,” Milano said. “I told the kids, ‘We were the better team today. Those first couple of innings aside (on May 30), we played better today.’ But the whole game counts.”
Zajdel will be one of the Hawks’ top starting pitchers for the 2016 season.
“We had a great season,” he said. “We had our ups and downs. The seniors fought hard all year and we’ve got to move forward. The juniors are ready to work hard for next season. We’re all going to work hard all summer long all the way up to next season.”
•Notre Dame, with an experienced senior class, was hoping for a deep playoff run. However, the No. 2-seeded Dons were ousted in the Loyola Academy regional championship game by the No. 7-seeded host school, 2-1 in 11 innings, on June 1.
Joe and Max Rimac each had two hits for the Dons, who finished the 2015 campaign 23-14, while Tim Simon doubled and drove in a run. Sam Ferri also doubled.
The Dons say goodbye to a senior class that included Arizona State University-bound Sam Ferri, who led the team with a .379 average, and his brother, Michael; Joe Rimac, Simon, Matthew Segovia (team-leading four homers), Brandon Nowak, Shaun Polakow and Adnan Sator.