BASEBALL: Facing a 1-2 count with one out in the bottom of the second inning Saturday, senior center fielder Will Jackson (pictured above) came through with an RBI single to score senior Matthew Raymond for the Ramblers’ first run in the 4-1 win over Notre Dame in the Class 4A regional final at Notre Dame. Jackson finished 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs scored.
“He does an amazing job with two strikes,” Loyola head coach Nick Bridich said. “Will’s a grinder. He competes and is fearless. He gets hits in a lot of different ways, and when he’s on the bases, he makes things happen.”
Jackson entered this week on a six-game hitting streak, batting .500 during that stretch. For the season, he’s hitting .299 with an on-base percentage of .404 and an OPS of .841. Jackson has 19 RBIs, 15 runs scored and 14 stole bases.
“I’m relaxed and keeping it simple,” said Jackson, who will play baseball at St. Thomas. “When I do that, good things will happen.”
The No. 4 seed at their own sectional, the Ramblers (21-9-1) play No. 9 Maine West in the semifinals Wednesday. The Warriors beat top-seeded Oak Park-River Forest 3-2 in the regional final at Maine East. In the other semifinal Wednesday, No. 3 Evanston plays No. 7 Lane, which earned a 7-3 win over second-seeded New Trier.
“We have respect for every team we play because we know on any given day anyone can win,” Jackson said.
The sectional final is Saturday.
BOYS LACROSSE: On paper, the Ramblers are a stronger team than they were last season. The offense is better in key categories such as goals per game and faceoff percentage, while the defensive statistics (goals against, caused turnovers, contested groundballs) are negligible from a year ago.
It’s all added up to Loyola (19-3) being one of eight teams left in the playoffs and in position to qualify for the state tournament in the first season lacrosse is an IHSA sport. After rolling through the Maine South Sectional, where they won three games by a combined 63-5, the Ramblers play Fenwick today in the supersectionals at Lane Tech. Loyola beat the Friars in both meetings during the regular season.
The offense, which is averaging 13.7 goals per game, starts with juniors Mick Burden and Alex Szczupak teaming up to win 69.9 percent of faceoffs. A balanced attack, the Ramblers feature six players — senior Quinn Callahan, senior Andrew Forsyth, junior Nolan Chow, junior Timothy Hackett, junior Connor Koch, junior Najee Taylor — with 40 or more points. Last year, three players finished with 40 or more points.
Defensively, Loyola is allowing 5.4 goals a game. Difference-makers include junior goalie Dom Urukalo, senior Quinn Cashion, senior Luca Lazzaretto, senior Kyle McGarvey, junior Danny Murphy, junior Cooper Prawdzik and junior Will Starshak.
The state semifinals are Friday at Hinsdale Central, with the title game set for Saturday.
GIRLS LACROSSE: The Ramblers are one win away from advancing to the state tournament in lacrosse’s first season as an IHSA sport. They play St. Ignatius today in the supersectional at Lane Tech. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Loyola (19-3) had no trouble at the Evanston Sectional, winning three games by a combined 53-7. The Ramblers beat Maine South 18-7 in Friday’s sectional final.
The semifinals and finals are Friday and Saturday at Hinsdale Central.
BOYS VOLLEYBALL: Lionel Ebeling has enjoyed a successful career in 14 seasons as head coach of the Ramblers. Last week, he led Loyola (27-12) to its seventh regional championship in 10 years. After Friday’s victory over Hersey in the sectional semifinal at Glenbrook South, he’s 341-182 and has 10 consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins.
But Ebeling will be looking for his first sectional title. The Ramblers last won one in 1994 under Bob Erlenbaugh. The No. 6 seed, Loyola (27-12) plays top-seeded New Trier today in the sectional final. The Ramblers are 0-2 against the Trevians this season.
The winner advances to the state tournament, which is Friday and Saturday at Hoffman Estates.
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola