CARY –Huntley senior Bryce Only was first asked to do something small, which made sense with hits so difficult to come by.
Only’s sacrifice bunt attempt rolled foul down the third-base line, so one pitch later, Red Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski changed his mind. With a hit-and-run on, Only drilled a shot to the left-center field fence to score Mark Skonieczny from first.
Huntley then added three more runs in the top of the 11th and defeated Cary-Grove, 5-1, in their Fox Valley Conference Valley Division baseball game Tuesday.
“When I got the hit-and-run sign, my job is to get it on the ground somewhere,” Only said. “I was fortunate to get a pitch up and drive it. Mark did a good job getting on and we executed those last two innings. It shows what kind of team we are.”
Huntley (20-3 overall, 12-3 FVC Valley) moved to 1 1/2 games ahead of C-G (16-6, 10-4) in the division.
Skonieczny, who hit his seventh home run in the sixth, led off the 11th with a sharp ball toward the hole at shortstop that went for an infield hit.
“I’m glad that I could get on base for my team,” Skonieczny said. “In an 11-inning game, you’re going to do anything to try and help your team win the ballgame. I’m glad Bryce got a pitch he could drive into the gap.”
Skonieczny momentarily lost the ball and stopped, but Only’s drive reached the fence and Skonieczny had plenty of time to score. Tyler Albright reached on an error on his sacrifice bunt attempt, Matt Sullivan followed with an RBI single, Kam Sallee sacrifice bunted and Tommy Kiriakopoulos finished the scoring with a two-run single.
Tommy Regan (3-0) then pitched his second scoreless inning to wrap up the victory.
“We overcame adversity, we hurt ourselves with baserunning early in the game, but we were able to persevere and execute out little things in the last inning there,” Jakubowski said. “We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position, but we still have to finish the deal.”
Only and C-G starter Brandon McCumber were locked in a pitchers’ duel through six innings. Sidearming right-hander Adam Kalish threw the seventh through ninth for Huntley before Regan took over. Andrew Brierton relieved McCumber with one out in the eighth and also was effective.
Both teams flashed some strong defense in a game that lasted 2:45, even with four extra innings.
“You had two first-place teams going at it, obviously we wanted the victory, but we had opportunities to get it and we couldn’t come through,” C-G shortstop Jeremy Vasquez said.
C-G scored in the bottom of the fifth with two walks, a sacrifice bunt and Matt Sutherland’s sacrifice fly. Skonieczny answered in the top of the sixth with his solo homer.
“It was just a well-pitched game by both kids and they happened to get a couple nice hits,” Trojans coach Don Sutherland said. “We had opportunities earlier in the game we needed to take advantage of. We didn’t, and they took advantage in their half of the 11th.”