Baseball: Joseph comes up big as Highland Park tops Mundelein in sectional final
Highland Park shortstop Jordan Schwartz will play at UT-Dallas next season. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 4:39PM
Two weeks ago, Mundelein scorched Highland Park 17-5 in a late-season matchup between the two clubs.
That was then.
On Saturday, the 13th-seeded Giants returned the favor in a huge way, thanks to a four-run outburst in the eighth inning, stunning top-seed Mundelein 7-3 for the IHSA Class 4A Glenbrook South sectional title.
The win put an end to Mundelein’s 13-game winning streak, and their season. The Giants (19-18 overall), meanwhile, will face Oak Park-River Forest (who won the Evanston sectional over Maine South, 10-8) in the Rockford Supersectional on Monday, at 4:30 p.m.
Tied, 3-3, with two outs in the top of the eighth — and runners on first and third — Giants sophomore pinch-hitter David Joseph belted a deep fly ball that got a late push from a stiff breeze blowing out to right-center.
Mustangs center fielder Bryan Wiener appeared to have a bead on the ball, but Joseph’s blast kept going, forcing Wiener to turn and retreat. The ball sailed over his head, then one-hopped to the fence for a two-RBI triple that gave the Giants a 5-3 lead. It proved to be the game-winner. HP then tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the frame, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles by Jordan Schwartz and Daniel Oversen.
“I’d been watching the pitcher (Mitchell Schulewicz), and he was throwing first-pitch strikes a lot out there,” Joseph, whose three-bagger came on the first pitch he saw, said. “I just wanted to hit the ball hard, and try to make something happen. The pitch was right down the middle, and when I saw it land it was just an unbelievable feeling.”
Joseph’s hit tarnished a strong relief outing by Schulewicz. He kept Mundelein in the game up until that point, with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief following starter Ryan Borucki (4 IP, 3 runs, 1 ER). All seven HP runs came with two outs, including one in the top of the first, and two in the third — which both times gave the Giants one-run leads.
Schulewicz’s counterpart, HP starter Jake Rubin (9-3), was pitching in his third playoff game since May 23, and kept Mundelein’s hitters off-balance most of the morning and afternoon.
The lefty, who’s gone seven innings in all three postseason games he’s started, allowed three runs (two earned) and scattered five hits Saturday. He also walked four and struck out five. More importantly, Rubin allowed just three Mustang baserunners to reach scoring position from the second through seventh innings.
“To be honest, I didn’t have a lot left there at the end ... I was gassed,” Rubin said. “I knew coming in that Mundelein was a great fastball hitting team, so I tried to use my off-speed stuff a lot more to set up my heater.”
Mundelein loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, which brought the tying run to the plate, but reliever Brett Shimanovsky worked his way out of danger and picked up the save.
Mustangs’ lefty Jared Mandel, who had an outstanding season with a sub-1.00 ERA, would have normally started in the rotation for Mundelein (34-5) Saturday, but was kept out with mononucleosis.
The team’s 34 wins were the most in school history.
“This is a tough one, that’s for sure,” Mundelein coach Todd Parola, who fought back emotions moments after the game, said.
“These guys took me on a great ride, man. I’m happy I was along for it. Today was no different.”