CRYSTAL LAKE – Through the first five innings of the McHenry County Youth Sports Association summer tournament game between the Waukesha PoundTown Spiders and the Lake in the Hills Thunder, it was anybody’s game.
Then the sixth inning happened.
After the Thunder squandered their best chance to tie the game in the top of the inning, the Spiders added four runs to their one-run lead to knock out the Thunder, 5-1.
“This team has been phenomenal all tournament,” Thunder head coach Mark Lonigro said. “It’s just baseball, you make the right play at the right time and get the timely hit. I guess the Gods just weren’t with us today.”
The loss ended a nice run for the Thunder. The team won its first two games in the bracket as the 12 seed, and then lost a close game to tournament favorites Japan and the second-seeded Spiders. They were among the final six teams still playing in the 15U gold bracket.
The Thunder won one more game than last year and advanced further than any other local team in 15U after replacing eight guys in the offseason.
“This whole tournament was a lot of fun and we made a lot of memories playing all sorts of teams,” Thunder player and Dundee-Crown attendee Brett Buske said. “We really came in the underdog as the 12 seed and advanced to the final four on the winner’s side of the gold bracket.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Spider’s Griffin Doersching launched a solo home run to break a scoreless tie. The home run came after about a 40-minute delay due to lightning in the area.
The game remained 1-0 till the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Spiders strung together a few hits and capitalized on some defensive errors to add four runs to their lead.
The Thunder did manage to score one in the top of the seventh on a RBI double by Buske to score Jake Lonigro, but couldn’t muster any more runs to narrow the gap. Max Michelini and Adam Smylie both added hits in the losing effort.
“We didn’t really hit the ball, and we had been hitting all tournament,” Thunder player Jack Schneider said. “The bats just didn’t wake up today and we had a few miscues but we still played pretty well.”
Schneider, a sophomore at Marian Central, started the game for the Thunder allowing just one earned run and three hits, while striking out three over five innings of work.
“We weren’t supposed to win as much as we did and did pretty well for ourselves throughout the whole tournament,” Schneider said.
Over the course of the tournament, the Thunder went 4-5 but lost three one-run games, two of which came against the last two teams left on the winning side of the gold bracket, Japan and the Naperville Renegades.
That’s just how these guys have played all year long, it’s a lot of fun to coach these guys,” Lonigro said.
“They could have easily been 6-3 but really dug deep despite the close loses. They made some great memories for themselves out there.”