BASEBALL — Sometimes a team’s record and its postseason seed can be misleading.
That seemed to be the case for Loyola Academy, who entered Class 4A Notre Dame Regional action last weekend as the No. 10 seed in the sectional and with a record five games below .500.
But two games later, the Ramblers (16-19) were preparing for this week’s Glenbrook South Sectional after upsetting two higher seeds en route to the Notre Dame Regional crown.
But were those wins over NO. 3 Glenbrook South and No. 6 Notre Dame really upsets? Maybe not, according to Ramblers head coach Bill San Hamel.
“We got off to a slow start this season and played in the Chicago Catholic League, one of the best conferences in the state, against teams like Mount Carmel, St. Rita, Providence and St. Laurence,” the coach said. “But (those games) helped prepare us for what to expect in the playoffs.
“So, you look at our record and our seed and wonder where we’re coming from. But we’re confident in our abilities and execution, and so the numbers don’t speak great truth about the competitiveness of our game or the talent of our guys. It’s not where you start the season, it’s how you finish.”
Loyola won the regional title Saturday with an 8-2 victory over Glenbrook South. Sophomore lefty Danny Rafferty turned in a fine performance on the mound, going the distance, giving up six hits, two runs and striking out 13.
Rafferty, whose curveball was working well, improved to 4-3 on the season and dropped his ERA below 3.00.
“He’s been one of our best pitchers and also plays outfield and bats in the No. 2 hole,” San Hamel said. “He’s had a good sophomore season. (Rafferty) got called up last year and got his feet wet. (This season) he earned a starting (outfield) spot and has worked his way into the top of the rotation.”
Senior second baseman Max Hogan was the offensive hero for the Ramblers. His three-run homer in the fifth put Loyola up 4-1. Later, he knocked in two more with a double.
“Max is batting in the seventh hole right now. He’s a senior and he’s very versatile. We can put him in the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 spot, or the No. 7 or No. 8 hole,” San Hamel said. “He’s willing to do what’s best for the team. He’s a senior leader and (on Saturday) he came through with timely hits to carry us through.”
Junior third baseman/catcher Logan Spurlin went 2-for-4 for the Ramblers.
Loyola came into the game after a 6-0 win over host Notre Dame on Friday. San Hamel said he worried about his team having a letdown after that contest.
“It was an emotional high-energy game Friday, and under the lights,” he said. “We had to bounce back the next day after a short amount of rest. (Saturday) was overcast and muggy and it was raining, which doesn’t naturally spark great intensity. But our guys came out in the first, Rafferty pitched us out of a situation early and we got the first run, which launched us.”
On Friday, junior lefty Jack Richmond pitched a gem in Loyola’s shutout of the Dons. Richmond worked all seven innings, gave up just three hits, struck out 11 and walked five. He improved to 3-3.
Senior shortstop John Rafferty went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI.