CRESTWOOD – At least Zac Taylor and his Downers Grove South baseball teammates didn't go down without a fight.
Facing St. Rita in a Class 4A supersectional with a trip to the state finals on the line, the Mustangs left the field with their heads held high despite suffering a 2-1 loss at Standard Bank Stadium.
"We played one of the best ballgames we've ever played right here," said Taylor, a senior and three-year varsity starter. "We left our hearts out on the field."
Joe Becht, another senior and three-year starter, echoed those sentiments.
"We played our hearts out and left it all out on the field," Becht said. "It just wasn't in the cards for us tonight."
After five scoreless innings, Taylor drew a one-out walk, stole second and third with Becht up to bat, and came home when Danny Oriente doubled down the left field line. But South left the bases loaded in the inning and St. Rita scored twice in the bottom of the sixth.
The last time South reached the supersectional was in 2005, but this year's team enjoyed a deeper playoff advancement. Supersectional game used to be played among the final 16 teams; in the current playoff setup, the final eight teams in each class advance to the supersectional.
"I don't think anybody expected us to be here, but the kids did," South head coach Darren Orel said. "On May 20 we lost to [St. Rita] 7-6 and the kids said, 'Coach, we'll see them again in the supersectional.'
"This group, this team, it was a special group of kids. They played their hearts our for each other."