College Baseball: Stevens’ game-winning double lifts Judson over St. Francis
BY JOSHUA WELGE For Sun-Times Media May 7, 2014 12:12AM
Matt Stevens dropped his bat — and dropped St. Francis from the conference tournament.
The Judson catcher’s booming double off the left field fence brought home Mark DeYoung with the winning run, the Eagles rallying to eliminate St. Francis 3-2 in 10 innings at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament Tuesday in Elgin.
Stevens watched his deep fly soar into the darkness, knowing what it meant.
“It’s either a homer or he (DeYoung) is scoring,” Stevens said. “I’m going to enjoy it.”
Judson (41-16), unbeaten at the tournament at its Hoffer Field, advances to play Holy Cross at 2 p.m. Wednesday with two cracks at winning its second straight CCAC title in the double-elimination format.
The Eagles, who had scored 17 runs over their first two tourney games, were stymied much of the night by St. Francis ace Adam Panayotovich.
The Mount Carmel product struck out 12, not allowing a runner past first base until DeYoung’s bloop double to start the seventh.
Billy Wright’s pinch-hit single scored DeYoung to draw Judson within 2-1.
Stevens walked to start the bottom of the ninth, Wright singled with one out and the bases loaded when Panayotovich failed to throw to first on a bunt.
Josh Hauser followed with a fly to right, Stevens scoring as the catcher couldn’t handle the throw in.
“That pitcher was dealing,” Stevens said. “We just kept pressing and pressing and eventually we got to him.”
Panayotovich (9-3) was indeed gallant in defeat, topping 150 pitches in going the distance.
“That’s the way he’s pitched all year,” St. Francis coach Brian Michalak said. “That’s the way he’s pitched for three years.”
If it wasn’t the championship game, it sure felt like it between the CCAC’s regular season co-champs.
“We got a little rivalry going, yeah,” DeYoung said. “This felt good.”
Panayotovich needed to be on, because Ryan Perez was his match most of the way.
The Hampshire native by way of Westminster Christian struck out seven over eight innings. Jordan Pemble worked two innings of scoreless relief for the win.
St. Francis got to Perez with two runs in the second.
Rick Faron singled off the shortstop’s glove to start things, and Matt Scott reached on a hard-hit infield single.
Mario Hernandez’s sacrifice fly scored Faron after a passed ball, and Scott came home on a wild pitch.