A Day That Started With Gray Skies and Rain Ends In Pure Joy for Lake Forest

Scouts Win Regional Championship Behind Clutch Pitching by Morrison and Turelli

Turelli and Morrison embrace in jubiliation after the Scouts win. (LFHS Baseball Twitter)

Turelli and Morrison embrace in jubiliation after the Scouts win. (LFHS Baseball Twitter)

AJ Shaw, Staff Writer

VERNON HILLS — Saturday’s Regional Final between Lake Zurich and Lake Forest started off the way no one wants a baseball game to begin with.

A rain delay.

For an hour and fifteen minutes, fans, coaches, players, and umpires waited through a shower that started just as the National Anthem began playing.

Due to a last minute field change, however, the two teams were still able to get the matchup in, thanks to the turf field of Vernon Hills High School.

Once the rain stopped and the field was ready for use, the Scouts and the Bears got underway in a battle of hard throwing lefties in Connor Morrison for Lake Forest and Noah DeLuga for Lake Zurich.

The Scouts were quite familiar with DeLuga, who back on April 8th struck out 9 Scouts hitters in a no-decision.

The Scouts put traffic on the bases in the first inning, after two walks and a hit batter, but DeLuga escaped by striking out Luke Nolan to end the inning.

With a golden opportunity missed to capitalize early, the Scouts then fell behind in the next half inning as Michael Gallus lined a two-run single to right field and Jack Moses hit an RBI triple to give Lake Zurich a 3-0 lead. The deficit did not affect the Scouts one bit, however, which has been apparent with this team all season.

Turelli and Morrison began the bottom half of the inning with a single and a double respectively to put runners on second and third, and then after Brady Christoph struck out, Davis lined a two-run triple to center to cut the Bears lead to one. Matthew Birtman then grounded out to second to tie the game at 3.

The Scouts repeated the same procedure in the third inning as well, as after Lake Zurich reclaimed the lead in the top of the inning, the Scouts loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and a fielding error. Brady Christoph then hit  a two-run single back up the middle to give the Scouts a 5-4 lead.

“The team showed great resilience by coming back twice against one of the toughest pitchers in the area.” said coach Ray Del Fava, “You may be able to quantify [DeLuga’s] 88 mph fastball, but you cannot quantify heart.”

The next two innings saw Lake Zurich threaten to tie the score or even take the lead, but Morrison shut down the opposition before being pulled with two outs in the fifth and 108 pitches on the day.

Replacing Morrison was Turelli, who entered the game in relief for the third consecutive game, dating back to last Saturday in the regular season finale against Glenbrook South.

Turelli got the final out of the inning, and then got help from Breck Nowik in the sixth, who made a nice pick on a sharply hit ground ball at first and turned a double play.

However, the Scouts failed to add insurance over the final three innings, sending Turelli into the top of the 7th with a one-run lead.

The first batter for Lake Zurich was Tyler Snep, a catcher who hit two home runs against the Scouts on April 9th in a 9-8 comeback victory for the Bears. In fact, one of the homers came off Turelli.

Snep however could not repeat the feat, as he lined out to Nolan at short, who made a nice play moving to his left.

After James Pfeifer (no relation to Colton), was hit by a pitch, Sam Holtz stepped in as the potential go-ahead run, but he fouled out to Christoph the catcher for the second out.

However, there was more confusion on the bases, as the runner was off first base and looked to be doubled off. As he advanced toward second, Christoph, lost for the moment, threw the ball toward second, but it went into the center field, sending the man to third.

With two outs and a man on third, the Scouts were hanging on by their fingernails, as DeLuga stepped in against Turelli. After Peter got him to 0-2, he bounced a breaking ball in the dirt, which DeLuga swung and missed at and Christoph fired to first to complete the strikeout and send the Scouts to the Sectional Semifinals.

Overall, the day was a moment that the players and coaches will never forget, but the hard work is not done yet for the Scouts, who now advance to the Sectionals to play Highland Park on Wednesday.