Rare cold bats doom Westmont baseball in playoffs

Westmont’s prolific offense falters in regional semifinal defeat

BENSENVILLE – Westmont’s baseball team did something it hadn’t done most of the season.

Only seven times this spring had the Sentinels failed to score four or more runs in a game. Conversely, there were 14 times they scored 10 or more runs in a game, but they couldn’t get the bats going in a 5-1 loss to Timothy Christian May 15 in a Class 2A regional semifinal game at Redmond Park.

“It looked as bad as the score,” Westmont coach D.J. Cocks said. “I’m baffled. We had four hits. I don’t think we’ve been held to four hits all year. I don’t understand how we scored only one run.”

Things looked good after an inning for Westmont (22-7). Starting pitcher Zach Moran left a TC runner stranded in the top of the first inning, and the Sentinels grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the frame. Leadoff hitter Ryan Schlicher singled, stole second, moved to third on Robert Kokoszka’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Charlie Donovan’s sac fly.

But the Trojans laced four hits and scored two runs in the top of the second, and the Sentinels could never claw back. They stranded six runners on base the rest of the game, four of those in scoring position, and they never had more than one hit in any inning.

“We couldn’t get guys on and we couldn’t execute things we had executed all year,” Cocks said. “It fell apart on us, and it was the wrong time for that to happen. It’s frustrating. We thought we had a shot to go far, and that’s what’s most disappointing, but in the playoffs, if you don’t show up, you don’t move on.”

TC added insurance runs with two in the sixth and one in the seventh. Westmont went down in order in the bottom half of the inning to end the game.

The playoff loss was one end of the spectrum, but the Sentinels enjoyed life on the other end of things when they clinched the Interstate Eight Conference North Division title a week earlier with a 13-3 record. It was their first I-8 baseball title and their first conference championship since 1978. Yet when they think back on the season, they will reflect on both the highs and the lows.

“It’s hard to think about right now because of what just happened,” Cocks said. “We accomplished a lot with a conference championship, but it’s hard to talk about that right after our season ended. When we look back in a couple weeks and reflect on it a little bit, I think we’ll all realize we did have a great season.”