HAMPSHIRE – After striking out the first two batters of the game, Huntley starting pitcher Andrew Ressler hit his friend, Hampshire catcher Austin Leonard, in the back with a slider. Three pitches later, Ressler picked him off at first base to end the inning of the Class 4A Hampshire Regional.
There would be no more Hampshire baserunners as Ressler faced the minimum, firing a 75-pitch, complete-game no-hitter as the Red Raiders defeated the host Whip-Purs 3-0 for their seventh consecutive regional championship.
Ressler, an SIU-Edwardsville commit, has thrown a no-hitter before.
“Actually, [Leonard] who I hit and then I struck out to end the game, was my catcher for my 5-inning no-hitter a couple of years ago. I just didn’t want him to ruin it for me since I’ve been playing with Austin now for years.”
The Red Raiders’ played perfect defense behind Ressler, highlighted by right fielder Joey Garlin’s sliding catch in foul territory to end the third inning.
No Whip-Purs hitter was able to solve Ressler, who continued Huntley’s playoff pitching dominance. Huntley pitchers have not given up a hit in their 13 innings of playoff baseball, outscoring opponents 29-0 in the process.
“Guys throw three pitches for strikes, and they’re not afraid to throw any pitch at any time,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said.
Huntley hopes to carry the momentum over to next week when they face Jacobs, a 9-5 winner over McHenry, in the Dundee-Crown sectional on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
The usual suspects provided the offense as the Red Raiders pushed across three runs against Whips starter Anthony Karbowski, a fireballing sophomore who has already committed to play at Louisville.
Ryan Quinlan smacked an opposite field double in the first inning scoring Brayden Bakes. In the third, Ryan Bakes followed Garlin’s leadoff single with a towering two-run shot over the left field wall.
Bakes, who will catch at South Carolina next year, said he didn’t even get all of his home run.
“[Karbowski] threw a slider on a 3-2 count,” Bakes said. “I kind of committed a little bit, and then I held my hands back and I was able to turn on that and pull that down the left side.”
Karbowski struck out two in his four innings of work and will figure to be a building block for future Whip-Pur teams. He also nabbed a runner at home on a close play in the second inning when Huntley attempted a safety squeeze. Nic DiMarzio and Jack Schane each tossed a scoreless inning of relief for the Whips.
Hampshire coach Frank Simoncelli was pleased with how his pitchers battled against a stacked lineup.
“We wanted to pitch fearless and just go right at them, so I thought we did a solid to good job at that. “I will miss this group,” Simoncelli said. “They are a great group of kids.”