The No. 5 seeded ConVal baseball team advanced past the first round in Division II in exciting fashion, beating No. 12 Hanover on a walk-off, three-run home run by Duncan Cahoon in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Cougars advance to play at No. 4 St. Thomas Aquinas in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We’ve been in so many tight games this year,” ConVal Coach Mike Marschok said. “We’ve won in extra innings, we’ve won on walk-offs, so I’m not surprised by any of this today.”
In Division III, No. 10 seed Conant fell to No. 7 Bishop Brady, 14-4, in five innings, while Hinsdale, the No. 10 seed in Division IV, lost to No. 7 Lin-Wood, 2-0.
Despite the gap in their seeding, ConVal and Hanover went at it in a tight, back-and-forth game.
“I expected a game just like this,” Marschok said, “because everybody has at least one good pitcher, and it shows.”
The Marauders took a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Cougars responded with three in the third, scoring on a two-run double by Casey Jordan and an RBI single by Jack Plourde. Jordan added another RBI single in the fourth, driving in Cahoon to make it 4-1, but Hanover scored two each in the fifth and sixth to re-take the lead at 5-4.
In the bottom of the sixth, Dylan Pipher doubled, moved to third on a single by Manny Bowman and scored on a fielder’s choice to tie things up again, setting the stage for Cahoon’s walk-off dinger.
Plourde pitched the first six innings for ConVal, and then Connor Buffum pitched a shutout seventh to get the win.
Conant also threatened its higher-seed
opponent, taking an early 3-0 lead, but the Orioles pitchers lost control down the stretch. They gave up 12 walks (compared to seven hits), allowing the Giants to literally walk away with the win.
“Yeah, it was the walks that killed us. That’s what did us in,” Conant Coach Arric Mather said. “We definitely had a chance today if we didn’t walk all those guys, and I think they definitely can see that too, or at least will in the next couple days once they’re not as upset about the loss.”
Hinsdale’s game with Lin-Wood was the exact opposite of Conant and Bishop Brady’s — it was a sterling showing from the pitchers on both sides.
Greg Howard allowed no walks and just a few hits, but the Pacers went hitless against the Lumberjacks’ defense.
The game went scoreless into the bottom of the sixth inning, when Lin-Wood got a string of hits together to score the game’s only runs.
Hinsdale Coach and Athletic Director Sam Kilelee said it was a tough game to lose, but after his team made the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and played competitively with a higher-seeded opponent, he considers the season a success.
“When we first got together in March, we talked about our goals for the season, what we wanted to accomplish, and making it to the playoffs was that step,” Kilelee said. “We’re going in the right direction, I think.”