SOUTH ELGIN – Despite being down to its last out and final strike, York’s baseball team refused to go away quietly during Saturday’s Class 4A South Elgin Sectional championship clash with Lake Park.
Trailing by a run with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the seventh inning, the 10th-seeded Dukes (17-16) began chipping away after Jack Braun laced a single down the right-field line and Max Hansmann followed with a single of his own on an 0-2 pitch.
After cleanup hitter Jack Rozmus coaxed a four-pitch walk to load the bases, junior Ryan Turner stepped to the batter’s box and Lancers coach Dan Colucci turned to his bullpen.
“I walked over to [York] coach [Dave Kalal], and I was like, ‘I can’t even breathe,’” said Turner. “He told me to relax.”
Turner did just that, delivering a clutch two-run single through the middle, sending pinch-runner Eli Maurer and Hansmann across in the Dukes’ stunning 3-2 victory over the 13th-seeded Lancers (14-19) at Elgin Community College.
“That’s a scene in a movie right there — it’s crazy,” said Turner. “I thought it was getting through for sure and all I wanted was the last run to score to win the game. Then, all the nerves were gone. It was just excitement.”
Hansmann, who worked a scoreless inning in relief of sophomore starter Ryan Sloan (three walks, seven strikeouts), recorded the win for the Dukes, who advance to Monday’s 6 p.m. Kane County Cougars supersectional against McHenry (29-8) at Northwestern Medicine Field in Geneva.
“What a finish — it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Kalal.
“Our kids just never gave up. It was another well-played game by both teams. For our kids to juice the bases up in that last inning with two outs, and Ryan Turner to come through with the clutch hit — wow.”
The game started inauspiciously enough for the Dukes, as the first five Lancers reached on singles from Mason Baer, Mike Christiansen, Dan Rollins and JC Ahlstedt, along with a walk to Max Baer, to take a 2-0 lead.
However, Sloan worked out of the jam, thanks in part to his catch of a line-drive comebacker that turned into a double play.
“We definitely wanted to push across a couple more runs there,” Colucci said. “If that gets through, it’s a four-run inning and we’re still hitting. He’s (Sloan) a great pitcher, so he settled in after that.”
Sloan retired 16 of the next 23 batters, working out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth, and a second-and-third, 2-out situation in the sixth.
“I had to battle because I didn’t exactly have all my stuff,” Sloan said.
Lake Park starter Sebby Alvarez fanned 5 in 6 2/3 innings.
“Their kid was phenomenal on the mound, and our guy was phenomenal on the mound,” said Kalal, whose Dukes captured their first sectional title since 1996.
“It has been a long time. We won state in 1993, and we have a couple kids in the program whose dads were on the ‘93 team.”
One of them being Sloan, whose dad, David, was a starter on the ‘93 team that outlasted Morris, 5-4, in 9 innings.
“This is probably the best way to win a game, honestly,” Ryan Sloan said. “It’s just an amazing feeling for the team and Ryan Turner.”
Lake Park, which placed second in the state a year ago, was denied a bid at its third sectional crown in four seasons.
“We started off 3-13 but nobody ever gave up,” Colucci said. “They kept working hard and staying positive. The goal was to be playing our best baseball toward the end of the year, and we did that.”