By Matt Nestor
Upsets in opposite regionals had left the Hononegah Indians as the favorites in their game against the Huntley Red Raiders.
Huntley, the third seed in their regional, actually cruised to two easy victories, but faced an uphill battle against the Indians. That battle seemed impossible after the first inning.
The Indians scraped together five hits and three runs in the first inning. With ace pitcher Ryan Scarpetta on the mound, who drove in a run on a double in the first, that seemed like more than enough to move on.
But the Red Raiders recovered from the rough start to eventually overwhelm the Indians, leading to an 11-3 victory in the IHSA Class 4A sectional.
The Indians strung together three two-out hits in the first to help them put up the five runs. Max Frost, Chris Blackburn and Tanner Rehnberg all came through with hits to help the Indians build their lead.
But for the Indians, the game was about missed chances. Despite the two-out hits in the first, the inning ended with the bases loaded. They also loaded them up in the second inning without putting anything across.
The Red Raiders were led by their pitching, which, after allowing five hits in the first, shut down the Indians’ offense after that. Phil Pupillo also had four runs batted in and scored twice for Huntley.
While the loss is heartbreaking, it finished off a successful year in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Indians.
Hononegah was expected by most to finish third or fourth in the conference. But they exceeded those expectations throughout the entire season.
On their way to a 28-7 record, the Indians only lost one game in conference on their way to a championship and also came back to win the regional finals against Boylan.
Coach Matt Simpson had high hopes for his young team, however. While he thought they may struggle early, he thought they were talented enough to compete with the top teams.
“We have two freshmen and four sophomores,” Simpson said. “I tell the kids, though, ‘If you’re a varsity baseball player, then you are a varsity baseball player regardless of your age.’ We’re not expecting anything less from them.”
From the June 9-15, 2010 issue