Baseball: Mack smashes Libertyville batting mark
Libertyville shortstop Anthony Mack tries to turn a double play during Saturday's regional final at Palatine. The Wildcats fell 6-3. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 8:50AM
Throughout his baseball career, Libertyville senior shortstop Anthony Mack has been the kind of player who wants to see his team succeed at any cost.
Saturday, his Wildcats were knocked out of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs, after falling to Palatine 6-3 in a regional title game. So when he found out he’d set a long-standing school record, it was bittersweet.
Mack finished the regular season with a .529 batting average — the best mark ever for a varsity player in school history. In 87 at-bats, Mack compiled 46 hits. In the 30 games, he had 30 singles, 11 doubles, four triples and a home run.
The previous record-holder was Lucas McKnight, who batted .495 in 1997, and is now a scout for the Chicago Cubs. Mack also bested Wildcats alum and former major-leaguer Brett Butler, who played for five different MLB teams from 1981-97, posting a .290 career average in those 17 seasons. According to Libertyville assistant coach Michael Gluskin, Butler’s regular season best mark wasn’t among the school’s top five.
“I’ve been coaching for 22 years, and I’ve never had a kid finish a season over .500, until Anthony,” said Libertyville coach Jim Schurr. “And the thing is, they weren’t cheap hits or bloopers. There was nothing fluky, like him going on an 18-for-20 streak, or anything like that. Almost every one of those hits was a line drive, or a ball that was hit hard somewhere. It’s quite an accomplishment.”
A closer look at the stats show opposing pitchers were also well-aware of Mack’s ability to hit from the left side. In 110 total plate appearances, he drew 13 walks, finishing with a .583 on-base percentage. And Mack’s final slugging percentage of .782, and his 1.365 OPS (on-base plus slugging) were more like video game numbers.
His ability to make contact was outstanding, too. Mack struck out just six times all season. And in the postseason, when the game was on the line, he delivered in one of the most pressure-packed moments he’d ever faced.
In the Cats’ 6-5 win over Prospect in a Palatine Regional semifinal on May 24, Mack blasted a game-tying RBI double — with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning — that helped keep his team alive. He also cranked a line-drive solo homer to right-center earlier in the game off Illinois State recruit Jack Landwehr, who is being heavily scouted by multiple pro teams, including the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox.
As a result of his hard work, Mack was named to the 2012 NSC All-Conference First Team. He was also a starter on the Wildcats’ varsity basketball team, and plans on attending and playing baseball for Division III Grinnell College (Iowa) — a prestigious liberal arts school. Mack scored a composite 32 on his ACT test, which helped him gain admission.
“When I saw him at camp, and in games, I was impressed with his leadership skills — and probably more importantly, his effort,” said Grinnell coach Tim Hollibaugh. “Everything he did was just complete hustle. He was diving after balls, and looked very comfortable out there. He was just a guy that I truly believed would be a great fit for our program based on all the little intangible things that he brings as a person, and a player.”
Schurr also nominated Mack for the IHSA’s All-State team.
“If they don’t choose him, I’m gonna be really disappointed,” Schurr said. “He’s had an incredible season.”
More awards: In addition to Mack, seniors Nick Coutre (OF), Darwin Townsend (P/1B) and Kyle Cibrario (P) were also named to the NSC All-Conference First Team.
Coutre will play baseball for Division I Villanova University next season, while Townsend has agreed to pitch for Division III Augustana. Wildcats’ sophomore catcher Evan Skoug — who also appears to have a bright baseball future ahead of him — was named an NSC honorable mention selection.
Recap: Libertyville, who finished 24-12 overall, advanced to the Palatine Regional title game, thanks to a 6-5 comeback win over Prospect. Mack, Townsend, Kevin McQuillen, Justin Guarnaccio, Kevin Calamari and Matt Vogt each scored runs in that one. Vogt, a junior, also reached base in three of his four plate appearances.
The Wildcats’ season ended in the regional championship game with a 6-3 loss to Palatine on Saturday.
Coutre and Vogt had two hits each, while Skoug drilled a pitch over the center-fielder’s head for a double.
Kevin McQuillen and Vogt drove in runs.
Townsend started for Libertyville and went five innings. All six runs, including three in the third, were charged to the big right-hander.
“He gritted it out,” said Schurr.
Summer camp: The annual Wildcat Baseball Camp, which is hosted by Jim Schurr, his staff and current college players, will run from June 4-8 at Butler Lake Little League Fields (Lake Street, Libertyville). It’s open to players, aged 7-14.
For more information, interested persons should visit www.jimschurrbaseball.com for registration forms and information. The contact number is (847) 921-0770.