WOODSTOCK – Woodstock finally found a way to score against Grayslake Central starter Justin Guryn in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s Class 3A Marian Central Sectional semifinal.
Trailing by one run after the first inning, the Blue Streaks clawed their way back and kept their season alive. Woodstock got to Guryn with three hits in the top of the seventh, including two knocks with the team down to its final out. Senior center fielder Jordan Sumner had the game-tying RBI double, but the deadlock wouldn’t last long.
The Rams answered back in the bottom of the seventh, courtesy of a Pat Burba game-winning single with the bases loaded and a drawn-in infield, giving Grayslake Central a 2-1 win and the opportunity for back-to-back sectional titles on Saturday.
“We were right there all day,” Woodstock coach John Oliveira said. “We knew we’d get an opportunity if we got a guy on base and go from there. We just needed to flip that order and get our [Nos.] 1 and 2 up to do a little damage.”
With one out in the top of the seventh, Woodstock (14-19) sent up a pinch hitter, freshman Blake Waterson, who singled to right field. After a flyout for the second out, No. 1 hitter and starting pitcher Alex Ferguson smacked a single into left. Sumner then stepped up with the Streaks’ season on the line, and ripped an RBI double into left field past a diving Burba to score pinch runner Mike Chonos from second base.
Grayslake Central center fielder Matt Loeffl backed up the play, preventing Ferguson from advancing past third. The inning ended on a bang-bang play at first base, with first baseman Kyle Clark reaching for the bag as Eric Bell hustled on a groundout. The umpires met and determined that Clark touched first base in time, keeping the score at 1-1.
Ferguson, a senior, hit the Rams’ leadoff hitter to start the bottom of the seventh, and then walked the next two batters intentionally to load the bases. After battling back from an 0-2 count, Grayslake Central’s No. 2 hitter, Burba, who went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, hit the game-winning single up the middle to score Anthony Fitzgerald from third base.
Ferguson (5-4) took the loss for Woodstock, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out two in the complete game. The two intentional walks that led to the winning run in the seventh were the only walks allowed by Ferguson all day.
“I’m really proud of how far we’ve come,” Ferguson said. “We worked hard for this, and it’s just not even the senior class. The class below the seniors, and everyone worked their butts off to get to this point and it paid off. I just wish we would have come up with the win today.”
Guryn (10-3) picked up the victory for the Rams (27-10), allowing one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out six. The junior left-hander has won all three postseason games for Grayslake Central.
“You know what? The postseason is all about survival,” Rams coach Troy Whalen said. “And the last two contests, we survived. I thought Woodstock outplayed us in every facet of the game. They were ready to play. Their kid [Ferguson] is tough.”
Woodstock, which won its first regional championship in 22 seasons, scored just four times in three postseason games, but only allowed three runs.
Cameron Grisolia finished 2 for 3 for the Streaks, and John Kruse reached base twice with a single.