Vallone’s Gem Leads Scouts Past Giants and Into Sectional Championship

The Scouts needed no help from the pen on Wednesday night, as Michael Vallone got 21 outs in the Scouts 6-1 victory over Highland Park to send them to their first Sectional Championship since 2016.

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The Scouts needed no help from the pen on Wednesday night, as Michael Vallone got 21 outs in the Scouts 6-1 victory over Highland Park to send them to their first Sectional Championship since 2016.

AJ Shaw, Staff Writer

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SCHAUMBURG — From the beginning of the season, junior pitcher Michael Vallone has been the dependable ace that the Scouts have needed. He proved that Wednesday by throwing a three hit, one run, complete game in a 6-1 Scouts victory over Highland Park.

“It was a lot of fun. I have to give a lot of credit to the team for bringing the energy and supporting me.” said Vallone.

While the Scouts entered this game as the 3rd seed in the St. Viator sectional, Highland Park had come in rolling as a 15th seed, upsetting 2nd seeded Stevenson in the Regional semifinal last Wednesday, and then beating Mundelein in the Regional finals over the weekend.

“[Highland Park] was a dangerous team as a 15th seed.” said Coach Del Fava, “They beat two of the better teams in our conference, so we knew we had to remain focused against them and I believe that helped us.”

While the first inning saw no scoring, it did bring some interesting plot lines, as Vallone and catcher Brady Christoph seemed to be struggling to get on the same page on what pitch to throw, due to Vallone being unable to see the signs, but the good news for the Scouts was that was the only challenge all night.

Vallone got help from his battery mate, who nailed Highland Park leadoff man Tanner Mack trying to steal second base, and the Scouts were able to get through the first inning with no further issues.

After no runs were scored in the Scouts half of the first or the Giants half of the second, the Scouts came to bat in the bottom of the 2nd.

Colton Pfeifer lead off the inning and singled to center, and then advanced two bases after two wild pitches by Highland Park pitcher Jeremy Frankel. After a Luke Nolan walk and a Peter Turelli strike out, Vallone helped his own cause by blooping a single over the head of third baseman Danny Saslow to score Pfeifer and give Lake Forest a 1-0 lead.

However, the lead did not last for long, as Highland Park tied the game in the third on a Mack RBI triple to left field. Fortunately, that hit would be the final one of the evening for the Giants.

But like they have all postseason, the Scouts got two runs back in the third, as Breck Nowik and Connor Morrison drilled consecutive RBI doubles to give the Scouts a 3-1 lead and knock Frankel out of the game.

Reliever Josh Mendiola was able to keep the Giants in the game with solid pitching out of the pen, but in the fifth, the Scouts rallied with two outs, and scored three runs thanks to an RBI single by Nolan and a two-run single by Turelli to give the Scouts a 6-1 lead with six outs remaining in the game.

The six runs were plenty for Vallone, who retired the final 14 batters he faced and struck out a season high 10 batters with zero walks to get the victory.

“Michael was fantastic.” said Del Fava, “He commanded his fastball well and he also was able to get a great drop on his curveball.”

The victory gets the Scouts one step closer to their ultimate goal of winning a state championship, but the challenge gets trickier on Saturday when they battle 5th seeded Fremd, who upset the top seeded Warren Blue Devils last evening.

Coach Del Fava plans to go with junior Connor Morrison for the game against Fremd, who got the win in the Regional Final against Lake Zurich.

“[Connor] will be our guy and we will have [Turelli] coming out of the bullpen. We feel with both of them being fresh, that will be really beneficial for us.” said Del Fava.