Baseball: Lincoln-Way North stuns Homewood-Flossmoor
By Josh Krockey For Sun-Times Media June 1, 2012 10:44PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 11:00AM
One strike away.
That’s how close top-ranked Lincoln-Way North came to being shut out Friday.
Then the seemingly impossible happened.
The Phoenix scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh — all with two outs — to stun Homewood-Flossmoor 6-5 in a Class 4A sectional semifinal at Andrew.
It was the 19th straight victory for Lincoln-Way North (33-5), which will play No. 7 Marist (27-11) in the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Phoenix is no stranger to comebacks of this sort. Last summer, the team overcame a 12-0 deficit after 21/2 innings to beat Joliet Catholic 13-12 in the Sandburg Regional championship.
“We never give in to pressure, never give up,” Phoenix shortstop Josh Handzik said. “We don’t crack. We just play our game the whole seven innings.”
Handzik delivered the game-winning hit Friday, a single off H-F’s Danny Lietz that brought in Jack Troike.
“He made a good pitch on me, honestly. I was just trying to fight it off,” Handzik said. “I just was able to find a hole out there.”
Three walks and three Dominic Hartman singles were the extent of Lincoln-Way North’s offense through the first six innings against Lietz, a left-hander who finished with 11 strikeouts.
Lietz, however, also walked five, which included a free pass to Alex Neufeld that loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh.
The next hitter, Ryan Pellack, was down to his final strike before delivering a two-run single. Hartman followed with an RBI single, Troike reached on an error that scored another run and Reed Hero tied it with a single. Drew Korosic then walked to reload the bases.
That set the stage for Handzik, who hit a 1-and-1 offering into center field, the ball landing just in front of Nick Brandt.
“It was his ballgame to win or lose,” H-F coach Todd Sippel said of Lietz, who threw 144 pitches. “He’s done it before, where he’s been able to get out of the threat with a strikeout.
“But you’ve got to give them credit; they didn’t give up. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
The eighth-ranked Vikings scored a run in the third without the benefit of a hit. H-F (22-12) then scored four runs in the sixth against North right-hander Jake McCabe, who hadn’t allowed a hit to that point.
David Stern’s two-run single put H-F up 3-0, while the other two runs came in via a throwing error and an RBI single by Ben Kirchler.