Baseball: Bartlett’s playoff run ends with loss to Willowbrook
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media May 30, 2012 7:56PM
Updated: May 30, 2012 11:40PM
Perhaps it was the stretch Dave Cericola pitched from all game long, or the pitching game plan he comes up with for each start, but more likely it was simply his excellence on the mound Wednesday that gave Willowbrook its first sectional title berth in 39 years.
The junior right-hander baffled 16th-seeded Bartlett all game long with a wicked slider for a one-hit, 3-1 victory in the semifinals of the Class 4A Schaumburg Sectional at Boomers Field. Willowbrook, the 13th seed, advanced to Saturday’s 11 a.m final against No. 10 Schaumburg, a 4-1 winner over St. Charles East.
“I was coming in on them with the slider and then I was keeping them off balance with the curve, mixing in a couple of changeups, too,” said Cericola (8-1).
Only Downers Grove South beat Cericola this season, and after Bartlett scored a third-inning unearned run, the Hawks (19-20) had only one other chance to score. Cericola struck out a career-high 11, walked one and hit two batters.
“I’ve never seen a high school kid be more prepared and compete like he does,” Willowbrook coach Vic Wisner said of his pitcher. “I wish people could see what he puts together before he starts — his scouting reports he puts together, how he wants to work.
“This kid has a plan for every hitter. You don’t see that in high school.”
Bartlett got a run in the third when Kyle Garcia got hit by a pitch, went to second on an errant pickoff attempt and then came around from second when shortstop Tom Van Kooten’s throw to first on Robert Smith’s grounder sailed high for a two-base error. But that was it against Cericola, who had pitched from a stretch his whole high school career, scrapped it for the windup, and hasn’t lost since going back to the stretch.
“I went to a windup and I just got comfortable again with the stretch,” he said.
Bartlett struggled in the field with four errors and a passed ball, and it made a difference in all of Willowbrook’s scoring against losing pitcher Robert Sadowski (6-4).
In the third, Bartlett shortstop Ben Grear made a diving stop of a two-out, bases-loaded grounder by Willowbrook’s Kurt Gitchell, and the infield hit would have scored the tying run. Grear threw the ball into right field and the go-ahead run scored.
Willowbrook (23-14) added an unearned run in the fifth on Cal Moltsan’s sacrifice fly to center.
Sadowski struck out three, walked four and hit a batter. Only one of Willowbrook’s four hits got all the way through the infield.
“We’d been playing very good baseball,” Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. “I thought if we played defensively and pitched, we’d have a chance, but the stuff in the field wasn’t there for us.”
Cericola made set down 15 of the final 16 Hawks he faced to make a comeback impossible.
“We had a nice run,” Pemberton said. “We ran into a pitcher who threw strikes and kept us off balance, and we weren’t able to adjust in some very key situations.”