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Prairie Ridge baseball photos make Sports Illustrated cover

Prairie Ridge pitcher Ethan Routzahn, the Wolves’ Twitter king throughout their magical run to the Class 4A state final four, has struck again.

Routzahn emailed Sports Illustrated last month with more than 25 photos after reading that the magazine would put together a mosaic of fans’ photos for its 60th anniversary cover.

Two of the photos Routzahn sent were included in the 1,596-photo mosaic done to look like Sports Illustrated’s first issue Aug. 16, 1954. That iconic picture was of Milwaukee’s Eddie Mathews, New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum and umpire Augie Donatelli.

One of Routzahn’s pictures was a selfie with teammates and the trophy from the Rockford Aviators Supersectional victory, 9-6, over Mundelein. The other was a Northwest Herald photo by stringer Randy Stukenberg of the Wolves’ Tim Jablonsky touching home plate after his game-winning grand slam. Routzahn shot that picture from the paper with his phone.

“About a month ago, I saw on Instragram you could email photos for an opportunity to be on the cover,” Routzahn said. “I got the issue yesterday and saw those two had made it. The first one I found was the selfie, then I saw the other one. I’m happy they got on there.”

Routzahn, a right-handed-throwing sophomore, underwent Tommy John surgery in April. While he was mending, he kept his Twitter account buzzing with photos throughout the Wolves’ postseason.

“I thought I might as well give it a chance [to be on the cover],” Routzahn said. “That’s sweet. I’ve been telling a lot of people. I told Tim (Jablonsky) about it right away.”

Routzahn tweeted a picture of the cover with the news on Thursday. The photo of the team on the bus with the trophy is slightly below the “U” in Sports Illustrated. The Jablonsky photo appears multiple times, twice it’s stacked on the bottom of the picture near the middle.

Jablonsky is on vacation in northern Michigan with his family and has not seen the cover yet.

“That was so cool when I heard,” Jablonsky said. “I saw it last night from Ethan. My dad (Warren)and I were looking for it up here, but we couldn’t find Sports Illustrated anywhere.”

Jablonsky will keep looking. His shot came in the fifth inning with Prairie Ridge trailing Mundelein, 6-5. He was called on to pinch hit, which was only his 18th varsity at-bat of the season. He crushed an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence, and reliever Jon Tieman shut down the Mustangs in the final three innings.

“Being a part of that was unbelievable,” Jablonsky said. “I couldn’t believe a little school from Crystal Lake made it on the cover. Getting that opportunity, I worked my tail off and put a lot of work, as a lot of us did. I was hoping I could do anything to help my team. If you go up there trying to get a single, good things can happen. The ball was there and I saw it jump off the bat.”

And now, in a small way, Prairie Ridge’s and Jablonsky’s accomplishments have made the big time.

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