Baseball: Ash tosses 1-hitter as Central defeats Vernon Hills in sectional title game
Vernon Hills sophomore Pat Crowley delivers a pitch during Satuday's sectional final at Grayslake Central. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 5, 2012 7:59PM
The seventh inning opened with Vernon Hills catcher Chris Marras at the plate. And he ripped a liner to left field that was caught.
Maybe that was the last hurdle for Grayslake Central’s right-hander Mark Ash.
He could look back to last year when Marras cracked a three-run homer off him which ended Central’s season in a regional title game.
Now a senior, Ash surrendered one fourth-inning walk and one sixth-inning single in Saturday’s sectional title game at home. And that was it. His one-hitter was the highlight of Central’s 4-0 whitewash of 30-game winner Vernon Hills. The Rams (30-9) will head to the Class 3A North Central Super-Sectional on Monday.
Ash took his no-hitter to the sixth inning before VH leadoff man MJ Crowley singled to left field.
“I was upset to lose the no-hitter,’’ Ash said. “I threw a fastball on an 0-2 count. But this game was huge. I threw to their weaknesses.”
While Ash flirted with history, his offense checked in with three runs in the opening frame. Both Kristian Meehan and Sean Boban delivered two-out hits off losing pitcher Pat Crowley.
“He hung a curve ball to me,’’ Boban said. “I knew he would throw something off-speed.”
Boban would drive home the game’s final run on another two-out hit in the third inning.
“We’ve got a mojo about us,’’ Boban said. “No one is feeling our season is over so we are just looking forward to the next game.”
That quick three-run cushion put Ash in a good position.
“He was on,’’ said Vernon Hills coach Jay Czarnecki. “Their defense made the plays and the wind was blowing in. Give Ash credit. A lot had to do with him.”
Vernon Hills (30-9) had leadoff hitter MJ Crowley reach second base twice. He was credited with breaking up the perfect game with the walk in the fourth and the single in the sixth.
“We faced Ash earlier in the season,’’ MJ Crowley said. “Today, he had us hitting fly balls.”
MJ Crowley, a senior, relieved his younger brother, a sophomore, in the bottom of the fourth and kept the Rams off the scoreboard despite a leadoff double by Jon Gurchak in the fifth inning. The senior also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. The Rams had at least one base runner in every inning.
For Central, the good fortune in the postseason continued with this win. Central coach Troy Whalen noted his team has won three out four sectional titles since the 2006 season. He also credited the work of his winning pitcher.
“The key for Mark was that he was getting ahead of the count,’’ Whalen said. “Vernon Hills is a very good hitting team but they were having some defensive swings.”
Central leadoff hitter Nick Hosford reached base three times. Gurchak had that double and a bunt single. Meehan singled in a run and walked.
The Rams will meet Nazareth on Monday at 4:30 p.m. Nazareth beat St. Joseph 7-4 in Saturday’s Glenbard South Sectional final.