HAMPSHIRE – Jason Cavanaugh called Thursday’s game against Crystal Lake Central “the most stressful game in the world.”
Sycamore’s baseball coach saw his team put up an eight-spot in the second inning of a Class 3A Hampshire Regional semifinal, yet observed his team’s offense go scoreless the rest of the contest.
In the top of the seventh, Cavanaugh watched as what remained of an eight-run lead almost evaporated. The Tigers had scored three runs in the inning and had the tying run on second base before Colin Telmanik flew out to right field to end the game.
Second-seeded Sycamore escaped with an 8-6 win and will play top-seeded Burlington Central in Saturday’s regional final at 11 a.m.
“The last several innings were equally frustrating because we had so many chances to score,” a relieved Cavanaugh said after the game.
When the Spartans (21-12) put up their eight-run second inning, they looked to be in for an easy win.
Sycamore hadn’t scored eight runs in an inning until Thursday’s bottom of the second, when the Spartans got RBIs from Brett Weaver, Alex Keller, Fred Beltrame, Alec Kozak and Mitchell Jordan in addition to a leadoff home run from Matt Godinsky.
“I think it got everybody pretty excited,” Godinsky said of his blast to left-center field. “We were able to get a rally going from there.”
The Spartans had chances to put the game away. They had runners on first and second in the fourth before Godinsky grounded into a 1-4-3 double play. In the sixth, Sycamore left the bases loaded.
“We had chances to score every single inning, and we couldn’t get any more [runs],” Cavanaugh said. “One more run, at any point in the game and the game’s probably over.”
Yet, Cavanaugh was forced to bring in Colin Eggleson in a save situation with third-seeded Crystal Lake Central (15-18) already having scored two runs in the seventh.
Eggleson allowed two hits, a walk and a run to score before getting Telmanik out. That final out wasn’t an easy one, with Eggleson hanging a curveball on a 0-1 count. Godinsky, who started on the mound but moved to right when Eggleson came into the game, fell down making the catch.
Sycamore’s junior pitcher was able to earn his first save of the season.
“Big sigh of relief,” Eggleson said. “That was the first curveball that [Cavanaugh] called of the [inning], so I wasn’t expecting the guy to just sit on it right there.”
Cavanaugh wanted to bring Eggleson into the game because he felt the lefty would give the Tigers a different look.
“I thought we needed a change. They were starting to catch up to [Godinsky],” Cavanaugh said. “I thought we needed something different in there and Colin does that.”