CRYSTAL LAKE – Mac N Seitz Red Sox shortstop Jack Duffy provided a lot for his team with slick fielding and a batting average near .500.
Red Sox coach Ryan Kisner also calls on Duffy as his closer, and no situation all season was bigger than the one Duffy faced Sunday.
“It was a lot of nerves,” Duffy said. “I was just hoping to go out there and get the job done.”
Duffy threw the final two innings, protecting the Red Sox’s one-run lead as they defeated Illinois Elite, 2-1, to win the 15U McHenry County Youth Sports Association Summer International Championships at Lippold Park.
Mac N Seitz, a 15-year-old program from the Kansas City area, is run by former Royals players Mike Macfarlane and Kevin Seitzer. While their teams perennially are competitive, this was Mac N Seitz’s first title in Crystal Lake.
“I knew we had a pretty good shot,” Duffy said. “After going 9-0 [through bracket and pool play] I thought we could do this. [Illinois Elite] gave us a good game here, we had to leave it all out there.”
Illinois Elite defeated Wisconsin Elite, 10-2, in Sunday’s first game to advance to the championship of the double-elimination tournament. Illinois Elite then dropped the Red Sox, 9-2, in the first championship game, forcing the final game with the winner taking the title.
Elite was playing its ninth bracket game, while the Red Sox were on their sixth, so both pitching staffs were well-worked. But Elite’s Jack Cavanaugh and the Red Sox’s Nate Wiles were tough in the final game.
Wiles went five innings before trading spots in the field with Duffy. Cavanaugh pitched all six innings and also added a double and score Elite’s lone run.
“Jack got hit pretty hard against them Friday night,” Elite coach Tyler Thompson said. “He stuck to his game plan. We told him to keep the ball down in the zone and get his breaking ball over early in the count. He allowed two hits and threw his butt off.”
Kisner thought, even after Friday’s 9-1 victory over Illinois Elite, the Red Sox might see that team again.
“It was pretty obvious we both had quite a bit of depth,” Kisner said. “We worked throughout the week to make sure we were set up that way [with pitching]. You could see Elite’s a really good organization and figured they’d have the arms to come at you. They had a long way to come too.”
The Red Sox took advantage of Elite’s rare fielding miscues for two runs in the second. Mac N Seitz’s Ross Cappo doubled in a run after a walk and an overthrow at first base, then scored when a fly ball dropped after a miscommunication in the outfield. That was all they got off Cavanaugh.
“It was just keeping the ball down,” said Cavanaugh, who threw five innings in a 9-1 loss to Mac N Seitz on Friday. “I had a great team behind me and that helped. I just didn’t have it the other day. [Being tired] wasn’t terrible. It does get to you a little, it’s more mental than anything.”
Duffy walked Elite’s leadoff man Mike Madej with two outs in the seventh, but got Adam Knerr on a line drive to right fielder Mark Collins to start the celebration.
“It’s been a great experience,” Cappo said. “Playing international teams was really cool. Winning it all is the best feeling.”