Baseball: Langlie tosses shutout as Mundelein downs Vernon Hills in NSC Championship
Mundelein's Nate Avis (right) gets congratulated by Mundelein's Chris Maranto (center) and others after scoring on Thomas Gandolfi's hit in last Thursday's NSC title game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 23, 2012 9:51AM
All season long, Mundelein senior right-hander Matt Langlie has baffled opposing hitters, despite barely reaching the low 80s on the radar gun.
On Thursday, in the biggest game of his high school career, he did it yet again.
Langlie’s seven shutout innings propelled the Mustangs to an easy 8-0 win over host Vernon Hills — but more importantly — it gave Mundelein their first outright North Suburban Conference baseball title since 2005.
And despite allowing 12 Cougar hitters to reach base, Langlie (8-2 overall record) was magician-like at times, somehow stranding every one of them. It was his seventh complete game, and fourth shutout of the season. Five of those 12 runners reached scoring position, but just one made it as far as third base.
Langlie scattered seven hits and walked four, while one Vernon Hills batter reached on an error.
“That’s why his teammates call him ‘Matty Ice,’ ’’ Mundelein coach Todd Parola said, moments after having a Gatorade cooler full of water and ice dumped on him by his players in celebration. “He’s kind of a cool cucumber out there. It doesn’t phase him — that’s his strength. He keeps his composure and maintains the same persona no matter what the situation is.”
With the victory, Langlie also lowered his already stellar ERA from 0.77 to 0.68. In 61 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just six earned runs. Despite such eye-catching numbers, he still hasn’t been offered a scholarship to pitch at the college level yet.
“I think my two-seam fastball had a lot to do with (my success tonight),” Langlie, who spent last year as the team’s closer, said. “I just try to get the downward action on it, and get a lot of ground balls. That’s mainly what’s gotten me out of those (difficult) situations. I was a little nervous out there to start the game. It was the biggest game I’ve ever pitched in, in my life.”
It didn’t hurt that the Mustangs (28-4 overall) immediately spotted him a comfortable lead. Mundelein leadoff hitter Thomas Gandolfi (2-for-4, run scored) slapped a single into center field to open the game, which was followed by an RBI triple by catcher Jordan Wiegold — his first of two three-baggers on the night — which made it 1-0.
After right fielder Torr Randau (2-for-4, triple) struck out, second baseman Chris Maranto reached on an infield single and stole second. Then, shortstop Will Farmer (2-for-4, double, triple, 3 RBI) doubled home both Wiegold and Maranto with one out, extending the lead to 3-0. Bryan Wiener followed with a single that drove home Farmer, making it 4-0.
“That was the first time I’ve ever had two triples in a game,” Wiegold said. “Me and (assistant coach Jeff) Sweno were doing a lot of work before the game on trying to keep my hands inside the ball, seeing the ball longer, and hitting it the opposite way. I think that’s why both my triples were to right-center field.”
It was all the offense the Mustangs — who added a run in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh — would need. It was also a bit of revenge, as Mundelein’s lone conference loss this season was at the hands of the Cougars, who beat them, 7-3, on April 21.
The Mustangs chased Cougars left-handed starting pitcher Tyler Feece — who was working on short rest — after just two innings. Pat Crowley — another lefty — allowed a pair of earned runs in his 3 2/3 innings of solid relief. Vernon Hills senior catcher Chris Marras (2-for-2, walk), who signed with Division-I Butler University, was the lone member of his team to reach base in every plate appearance.
Vernon Hills coach Jason Czarnecki discussed what he felt went wrong, while also praising his players for being the 2012 Prairie Division champs, which earned his club a spot in Thursday’s title game.
“Unfortunately, when you walk away from a loss in a game like this, you learn a lot more from the negatives than you do the positives,” Czarnecki said. “We beat them earlier in the year, we had the same three pitchers throwing as we did tonight, they were better rested this time ... and they were able to locate their pitches better. So, headed into the playoffs (next week) we’re not too worried about our pitchers.
“But at the same time, the problem is, when you play Mundelein and fall behind in the count and have to throw fastball, fastball, fastball over the plate, like we did tonight, they’re gonna make you pay,” Czarnecki added. “You’ve gotta be able to keep them off-balance. If you’re in a situation where you can put pressure on Mundelein (instead of playing from behind), they’re a little bit of a different team. The first time we played them, we were up a couple of runs, and they had to make the plays and the pressure was on them.”