ALGONQUIN – The idea of establishing a place in Jacobs baseball history was first introduced during a two-day trip to Peoria and had been a reoccurring theme throughout the regular season.
All spring, Golden Eagles coach Jamie Murray reminded his players that they had a chance to leave a legacy if they could find a way to put everything together when it mattered most. On Saturday, Jacobs saw to it that happened.
Connor Conzelman's five RBIs sparked a 13-hit attack and Nick Ledinsky was solid in a complete-game effort as the Golden Eagles captured the first regional championship in school history with a 9-3 win over Barrington in Class 4A Jacobs Regional title game.
Jacobs (23-11) advances to the Huntley Sectional, where it will face Rockton Hononegah at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Indians beat Boylan Catholic, 4-2, in Saturday's Guilford regional championship.
"Being part of this is amazing," said Conzelman, who delivered a three-run homer and a two-run single in his first two at-bats. "Now, no matter what anybody says, we can tell ourselves we're the best Jacobs baseball team that's ever been. Nobody's ever won a regional at Jacobs."
But the accomplishment came at a price for Murray, who told his players they could shave his head if they won Saturday's regional title. As they celebrated with the championship plaque, Murray walked away and said, "Well, there goes my hair."
"It's a great day to be a Golden Eagle," Murray said.
Jacobs did most of its offensive damage in the first three innings when the Golden Eagles touched up Barrington starter Scott Nelson for eight runs. Conzelman accounted for a big share with his five RBIs to go along with run-scoring hits by Grant Kale, Matt Hickey and Ben Murray.
The early run support was plenty for Ledinsky, who scattered six hits over seven innings and who settled in after allowing a pair of runs in the second inning. Ledinsky worked ahead of hitters for much of the day, blending a fastball and curve and never facing much trouble.
"Between innings two and six, I was in a groove," said Ledinsky, who struck out three and walked only one in the victory. "I felt like I couldn't be hit, really. I felt really good."
Greg Sidor's RBI single in the fifth inning gave Ledinsky even more to work with until the seventh, when Jake Petersen finished off Barrington's scoring with a two-out RBI single. But after Ledinsky got Joey Sciaccotta to ground out on a comebacker to the mound, Jacobs' capped its regional title, celebrating with a pile-up near where Ledinsky fielded the final out.
But the Golden Eagles don't feel like they're done yet.
"I think we could do some damage in this tournament," Ledinsky said. "The bats are starting to get going and we've had great pitching all year. The bats haven't been there and now they're starting to get here and I think we could be a lethal team."