Three weeks ago, the Lake Forest Scouts and the Glenbrook North Spartans met for the first time. In what may have been the Scouts most intense game at the time ended at a 7-7 tie. Wednesday night, the two teams had a chance to settle the tiebreaker, but this time, the ramifications where at an all time high. In a win or go home situation, both teams put their best foot forward in hopes of reaching the regional finals. With Lake Forest’s ace Michael Vallone going against Glenbrook North’s ace Jack Galibardi, the contest was low scoring as expected. However, a pair of immense hits in the sixth inning helped put the Scouts over the Spartan’s in what has been one of the biggest upsets of the IHSA 4A bracket.
Lake Forest opened things on offense exactly how they did Tuesday evening against Waukegan; by reaching on an error. The Scouts scary fast leadoff hitter Caleb Durbin hit a ground ball to David Rubin, who could not contain the baseball and get it to first in time. Durbin made him pay for his mistake. After stealing second and advancing to third base on a wild pitch, JR Naughton’s ground ball to second was enough to score Durbin granting Lake Forest an early one run lead. In a game that was dominated by pitching, it was important for the Scouts to score right out of the gates in the first.
Glenbrook North wouldn’t generate a response until the bottom of the second. Cleanup hitter Chris Heywood sent a bomb on a 1-1 count over the left field fence to tie the game at one. Just like that things were even and momentum shifted over to the Spartans. Thankfully, Vallone ignored all the distractions, moved on from the home run, and retired the next three batters ending the inning.
Come the 6th inning, the game was still a pitchers duel and Lake Forest was still being no-hit, that is until Ryan Lee changed the whole landscape of the game. On a 2-2 count, instead of softening up at the plate, Lee took a more aggressive approach, got a hold of a pitch, and sent a big fly over the left field wall. This was the turning point in a game that had been tight from the very beginning. The Spartan’s dugout seemingly stopped chirping, and the Scouts once again were fueled by momentum. In Lake Forest’s next at-bat, Caleb Durbin nearly hit a bomb himself. Instead it fell just short on a line drive that hit the fence on the fly. Durbin ended up at second and in scoring position with no outs. During the next at bat, Durbin did everything he could to get in the pitchers head by taking large leads at second, and it worked. Jack Galibardi airmailed the ball over the shortstops head and into the outfield allowing the Scouts baserunner to advance over to second. With one out, Drew Golde hit a bloop single into right field extending the Lake Forest lead to two. The #4 seed and regional host however was not going to go anywhere.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Spartans cut into the Lake Forest lead. The inning started off with Chris Karasinski getting drilled by a pitch, then the Scouts third basemen made on error on a bad throw to first base putting men on first and third. In the next at-bat, George Korompilas hit a slow roller to second that scored Karasinski from third slicing the Lake Forest lead to one. With thee outs remaining in a win or go home game, the Scouts were entering their most intense inning of the season.
After relief pitcher Evan Barnes came in and struck out two of the three batters he faced, senior closer Will Woidat looked to get the final outs of the game and send his team to the regional finals. Things got a little uneasy after he walked the first batter. Barnes, who drew the walk, later stole second base, but made an extremely costly mistake with one out. Ben Boeke hit a sharp ground ball right to Caleb Durbin. Barnes decided to test his luck and advance to third on the ground ball, however Durbin realized the situation and tossed the ball over to third basemen Breck Nowik who tagged out Barnes ending a massive threat on the basepath. With two outs, and runners on first and second, Woidat finished the job by striking out Chris Karasinski and was greeted by a dogpile from his teammates. The Scouts upset the #4 team in their region by the slimmest of margins advancing to the regional finals on Saturday.
The Glenbrook North Spartans were no gimmick. They were one of the most talented teams Lake Forest took on this season. The Scouts just outplayed them Wednesday evening. To begin with, the pitching was phenomenal. Michael Vallone went 5 ⅓ and was never phased by the opposing crowd, or the Spartans that were chirping in the dugout. Woidat, per usual, was virtually unhittable. The Scouts closer is now posting a 2.27 ERA over 12 ⅓ innings. The rest of the Lake Forest defense did make a few mistakes, but nothing to the point that could have cost them the game. The offense got off to an agonizing start, but big hits in the 6th inning from Ryan Lee, Caleb Durbin, and Drew Golde were the difference makers. Yeah, this game was no blowout, but when you are facing a team as good as Glenbrook North is on the road, a win is a win, no matter how they get it. With the Spartans being the top seed in the Scouts half of the bracket, the regional final will be hosted on the campus of Glenbrook North. First pitch is scheduled for 11AM on Saturday and tickets are $5 a person. Come support your Lake Forest Scouts and stay tuned to The Forest Scout as the boys varsity baseball team looks to reach sectionals for the first time since 2016.