This is Loyola’s first appearance in a supersectional since 2008 and only the second in program history. Huntley is playing in a supersectional for the second time in three seasons.
Loyola head coach Nick Bridich said that won’t matter when the Ramblers (23-9-1) and Raiders (31-6) play Monday at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg. The winner advances to the Class 4A state semifinals at Joliet’s Route 66 Stadium. Loyola is looking for its first trip to the state tournament. Huntley finished fourth in Class 4A in 2010.
“We believe we’ve played the tougher schedule, and our players are prepared for this game,” Bridich said. “It will come down to which team executes better and who handles the moment better emotionally. We are confident we can do both.”
Huntley’s offense is led by senior shortstop Jordan Goldstein, who’s hitting .385 with nine doubles, 23 RBIs and 29 runs scored. Its two best pitchers — seniors Nick Laxner and Kyle Morgan — won’t be available Monday due to pitch count rules.
“We know they are a good, solid high school baseball team,” Bridich said. “They will bunt, hit and run, steal. Their style of play is balanced.”
Loyola’s likely starter Monday is senior right-hander Henry Haracz, who earned the win in the regional final against Notre Dame. He’s 3-1 with a 3.17 ERA in nine starts and 42 innings. The bullpen is headlined by junior left-hander Jake Novak (pictured above). He has a 1.89 ERA in 26 innings over 11 appearances. The only pitcher who can’t throw Monday is senior right-hander Ben Wagner, who started in Saturday’s sectional final.
Loyola has cleaned up its defense during the postseason, committing only four errors in four games. Three of those came against Notre Dame, but none of them led to a run. Junior Jack Moran has been a standout at shortstop.
Everybody in the lineup is producing during the playoffs. In Saturday’s 9-3 win over Evanston, all nine starters reached base at least once. Eight scored at least one run, and six had at least one RBI.
For the season, senior Jason Vrbancic is batting .344 with an OPS of 1.044. He has five home runs and 37 RBIs. Senior Trey Torain (.297 BA, 1.054 OPS, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs, 34 runs scored) and Novak (.306 BA, 1.055 OPS, 5 HRs, 33 RBIs, 11 2Bs) are major contributors at the top of the order.
But senior Will Jackson is hitting .304 with three homers, 22 RBIs and 18 runs scored from the No. 6 spot, while Moran is batting .312 with 17 RBIs and 21 runs scored at No. 8.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola