CARY – Pressure? What pressure?
Jacobs’ Ryan Sargent knew what was at stake with his team heading into the final three Fox Valley Conference Valley Division baseball games tied for first with Huntley, and the junior right-hander was unfazed.
“It’s fun. It’s just a game. I just come out here and have fun,” Sargent said. “I’m out there with my friends, having a good time. I don’t want to overstress about the situation. Then, I’ll press too much. Just stay relaxed and have a good time.”
Sargent fed Cary-Grove a steady diet of breaking balls Monday, holding the Trojans to five hits for a 3-1 victory in their FVC Valley game. The win keeps Jacobs (21-11 overall, 13-4 FVC Valley) tied with Huntley (21-7-1, 13-4) with two games to play.
Jacobs plays Tuesday at Dundee-Crown and hosts Cary-Grove on Wednesday. Huntley hosts Crystal Lake South on Tuesday and plays Wednesday at D-C.
“There’s a little pressure – these are big games,” Jacobs second baseman Grant Kale said. “A loss could determine the [division], but we have all the confidence in the world right now. We’re playing good baseball.”
The Golden Eagles scored twice after there were two outs in the first on doubles by Kale and Tim Hubner, a walk to Danny Vandewalker and an RBI single from Matt Kozlak. That proved to be enough for Sargent (3-1), who struck out four and walked four and has allowed two earned runs in his past two starts.
“It’s going to take all 19 [FVC] games [to determine the champion],” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “We were expecting that. That’s outstanding performances, back-to-back, from Sarge. We try to neutralize them by pitching backwards. We got hits when we needed to. That was a big two-out rally [in the first].”
The Trojans (18-12, 11-7) scored their run in the first on Matt Sutherland’s single, a sacrifice bunt by Jason Barrett, a check-swing single by Dean Christakes and an error on Sargent when he tried to pick Christakes off first base. That was all they could get against Sargent.
Although many pitchers like to start with fastballs to get a first-pitch strike, Sargent was able to get his curveballs over on first pitches and keep the Trojans guessing.
“In warmups, [the curveball] was feeling good,” Sargent said. “I knew it was working out well. I have to get my curveball working and then I can get in their heads. After that, they’ll be thinking curveball and I can hit my spots with my fastball.”
Sargent stranded runners at third base in the fourth and seventh innings and threw 92 pitches in his complete game. C-G coach Don Sutherland said his team had two, two and three hits in its previous three games, so the five against Sargent was an improvement.
“We got good pitching and our defense was errorless,” Sutherland said. “We have to hit better. We can’t explain it. Nick [Franz] pitched outstanding, so did Jimmy [Perkins]. And their kid just pitched better, or their kids hit better.”