By Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – Harlem’s baseball and softball teams were hoping to add regional championships to the NIC-10 titles each of them won earlier this spring. But it didn’t happen.

Fourth-seeded Algonquin Jacobs blanked the No. 1 Huskies, 3-0 Saturday, in the finals of the Belvidere North regional. Also Saturday, second-seeded Huntley won its own regional, 5-1 over the Lady Huskies, who were No. 3.

Harlem opened up the regional with a nail-biter, a 6-5 win over the No. 4 seed, DeKalb, after taking an early 6-1 lead.

Things started well with the Huskies taking a 3-0 lead in the very first inning. Brock Soter singled and T.J. Chance walked to get it going. After a steal and a fielder’s choice, Joey Parsons drilled a clutch, two-out single that scored two runs. The third run came home after a Barb error.

With Harlem up by three after two innings of play, the game was suspended by lightning and rain. Action picked up last Thursday with DeKalb scoring in the third off starting and winning pitcher Aaron Cusimano.

The Huskies took an more comfortable 6-1 lead by adding three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Key hits were delivered by Cody Paholski, Eric Steiner and Soter. But DeKalb came back with a vengeance, scoring four times in the sixth to make it a 6-5 game.

Head coach Doug Livingston summoned Chance to preserve the win and he did just that. Facing the heart of the Barbs’ batting order, numbers. 2-3-4, he retired them in order and the Huskies won for the 24th time this season.

Against Jacobs, Harlem (24-9) was held to three hits, singles by Drake Sundstrom and Brock Soter, with a ground-rule double from T.J. Chance, all in different innings.

There were some standout defensive plays for the Huskies, such as a diving catch by outfeidler Zack Jones and plays at third base, in separate innings, by Soter and Joey Parsons.

Chance pitched five innings and took the loss, with Jones throwing two scoreless innings in relief.

“It was a very good season and great group of players to end my career with,” said coach Livingston, who has retired after 24 years in coaching.

2 home runs do it

The Lady Huskies opening game of the regional also was suspended by bad weather. After it picked up again on Thursday, they defeated Jacobs to clinch a berth in the regional championship contest.

Sophomore Megen Johnson added to her lengthy list of memorable games by hitting two home runs to account for all of her team’s runs in the 5-1 victory.

Harlem broke on top 2-0 in the last of the second inning. Freshman Olivia Penney led off with a double and scored after Johnson’s first home run.

Homer No. 2 for Johnson came in the bottom of the sixth, scoring Kirstin Fudge and Penney, who singled in front of her. Penney had a standout game offensively, going 3-for-3 at the plate and scoring two runs.

Elle Adams, yet another sophomore, pitched a complete seven-inning game. She limited Jacobs to a pair of singles, which came in the fourth and seventh innings, while striking out eight batters.

But the Lady Golden Eagles didn’t go quietly, loading the bases with one out in the fourth, when they scored their only run, and again with one gone in the seventh. Each time Adams worked out of the jam by retiring two batters in a row, with a strikeout and a routine fly ball.

The loss to Huntley took away a rematch with Barrington in the first round of the sectional. The Fillies, who took fourth in the state last year, shut out Harlem, 4-0, in the sectional finals last year.

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