Hosts have the most
Mustangs fall short vs. Morgan Park
There was no doubt the Mustangs were going to win Saturday’s Class 3A Morgan Park Regional final.
It was simply a matter of determining which group of them would do so. That wound up being the hosts.
Behind Christian Lipscomb’s four-hit, seven-strikeout showing on the hill and Jamal Martin’s clutch two-run single in the fifth, Morgan Park squeezed out a 2-1 triumph over Evergreen Park and prevented the latter from duplicating its deep playoff run of a year ago. The Mustangs reached a sectional championship game last spring for the first time in program history.
“This one’s going to take a while to get over,” Evergreen coach Mark Smyth said. “It was a tough one on Saturday. Obviously [in] a 2-1 game, there’s going to be a number of places where you could say, ‘If we would have done this differently or if this would have happened,’ but that’s baseball.”
The local Mustangs (22-11), who missed equaling the school’s single-season mark for wins by just one, issued a few threats along the way. But they had a runner picked off in the second stanza, a man caught stealing in the third and two people left on base in the sixth.
Evergreen finally broke through in the seventh after filling the bags with only one out. The Mustangs’ best hitter, Mark Martin, drove in a run but was retired on a groundout. After a hit batsman reloaded the sacks, Dan Kohler’s liner was knocked down and he was thrown out by inches to end the game.
“It was a bang-bang play,” Smyth said. “All we needed was one hit [in that inning], and [having] Mark Martin up with the bases loaded — I’ll take that a million times.”
By failing to do more scoring damage, Evergreen wasted a solid mound effort from senior Frank Meisl. In his last prep outing, the big senior scattered five hits and whiffed 11.
“He certainly deserved a better fate,” Smyth said of Meisl. “He got out of a few jams and he pitched a heck of a game, for sure. We got the pitching performance from Frank we wanted and our defense was solid.
“I thought we’d swing the bats a little better than we did. We didn’t swing it great on Thursday [versus Solario Academy], but I thought we had a good practice on Friday and a good hitting session before we left [Evergreen on Saturday].”
Smyth didn’t hesitate to compliment his team’s conqueror for its ability to slow the Mustangs.
“That’s a Morgan Park team that put Brother Rice down [during the regular season],” he said. “There was nothing [for us] to be ashamed of.”
That included for the season as a whole.
“I’m very proud of them,” Smyth said of his players. “It was an awesome group of kids to be around. I don’t know if ‘putting us on the map’ is the right word to use, but we told them, ‘You’re making people take notice of Evergreen Park baseball.’”
Evergreen Park 2
Solario Academy 1
The Mustangs ushered in the postseason with a hard-fought win over another Chicago Public League foe in nine innings on Thursday.
Brian Pall threw the first seven frames on a yield of one hit while striking out eight, but Solario took advantage of two hit batsmen and an Evergreen error to plate a fourth-inning run. That lone marker was enough to put the Mustangs in chase mode.
Evergreen finally evened the score in the bottom of the sixth, using KeyShawn Carpenter’s suicide squeeze for the payoff. Corey and Sean Miller both singled ahead of him.
“I was very impressed with them,” Smyth said of Solario. “We had heard about them — their pitcher changed speeds well and they’re well-coached.”
And, in Smyth’s view, his players didn’t enter the contest with any preconceived notions about what to expect from their opponents.
“People that aren’t involved in baseball maybe [underestimated them],” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, we didn’t. That was a really exciting, intense [and] entertaining game.”
And it became a lot more enjoyable for the Mustangs when they finally snapped the 1-all tie in the ninth. Evergreen had missed out on a chance to decide things in the bottom of the seventh after putting two men aboard, but its defense rose up over the next two stanzas as one Solario runner was thrown out trying to steal in the eighth and another was picked off in the top of ninth.
After Ronnie O’Toole drew a walk in the Mustangs’ ensuing at-bat, Martin belted a game-winning triple. The hit was his third of the day. Corey Miller also finished with three hits, while Sean Miller registered two.
Joe Moran earned the win in relief of Pall.
Solario Academy 000 100 000 — 1
Evergreen Park 000 001 001 — 2
Evergreen Park 3B: Martin. RBI: Carpenter, Martin. WP: Moran (7-2)
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Morgan Park 000 020 x — 2
Evergreen Park RBI: Martin. LP: Meisl