AURORA – Sycamore baseball coach Jason Cavanaugh wasn’t fooled by Marmion’s record.
Despite coming into the postseason with a .500 winning percentage, the No. 5 seed Cadets jumped out early and kept the top-seeded Spartans’ bats quiet in a 6-0 victory in the championship of the Class 3A Aurora Central Catholic Regional on Saturday in Aurora.
“That’s the one team I didn’t want to play,” Cavanaugh said of the Cadets. “That’s really the one team I didn’t want to play, just because of the schedule they play. They’re playing a lot better competition than anybody else is.”
The Cadets (19-16) won their third consecutive postseason game, including second of the day after beating
No. 4 Aurora Central Catholic, 7-3, in the regional semifinal.
“We play in the Chicago Catholic League in the Blue Division, which is the best conference, arguably, in the nation,” Marmion coach Frank Chapman said. “We played with all those teams. We were there, it was just getting the big hit in the sixth or seventh inning. For us, we just improved on a daily basis and played against the best competition the state had to offer, and it prepared us for this.”
Marmion had seven hits on the day, and none were bigger than the two from Trevor Taus. The No. 7 hitter in the lineup for the Cadets, Taus went 2 for 3 with a two-run home run off Sycamore starter Jacob Cavanaugh in the second inning and added a two-run double off reliever Jack Mizgalski in the third.
“Trevor Taus hasn’t hit a ball that hard in the air all year,” Chapman said. “He’s hit some rockets on the ground and some line drives, but nothing like that. That’s huge. It was his moment.”
Sycamore (24-9) didn’t help itself either, with Cavanaugh and Mizgalski each walking in a run.
The Spartans, who have struggled offensively at times this season, only had five hits on the day – two of which didn’t leave the infield – and only had a runner past first once.
Sycamore’s only scoring chance came in the bottom of the fifth, when Austin Mereness and Zach Carlsen had back-to-back singles to give the Spartans runners on first and third with two outs after a sacrifice fly from Mizgalski. However, Marmion starting pitcher Brandon McPherson escaped the jam by striking out James Marcinkowski.
Mizgalski, who is the ace of the staff but had been dealing with back problems late in the season, pitched the final 42/3 innings of the game, allowing one unearned run on two hits and striking out six – but allowed two inherited runners to score in the third on Taus’ double. Jacob Cavanaugh started and threw 21/3, allowing five hits and walking three and striking out two.
“Jack did a really nice job coming in, but I just didn’t know how long he could go,” Cavanaugh said. “I didn’t want to have to pull him out of a tie game in the fifth or sixth inning. ... We didn’t know all along (if Mizgalski could pitch), and he’s much better in relief than what Jacob is. Jacob takes a long time to get ready.”
By the numbers: Along with the hits from Mereness and Carlsen in the fifth, Mizgalski, Jacob Cavanaugh and Tyler Didio each collected singles on the day.
Beyond the stats: The shortened postseason run for Sycamore comes a year after the Spartans made it to the Class 3A Super-Sectional in 2016.
They said it: “Only one team gets to win their last game,” Jason Cavanaugh said. “(Marmion) is good. They’re really good.”
Up next: The Cadets will face Rockford Lutheran in a Class 3A Sycamore Sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday.