Clutch hitting, untested pitching carries Downers South past Hinsdale South into Elite 8

SHARE Clutch hitting, untested pitching carries Downers South past Hinsdale South into Elite 8

DARIEN — Playing four games in as many days will test the depth of any pitching staff.

Downers Grove South aced such a test in Thursday’s Hinsdale South Regional championship of the Phil Lawler Classic with a pair of left-handed pitchers who didn’t pitch a varsity inning last spring.

Senior Danny Kasher gave the Mustangs four innings before he gave way to junior Zack Jones. The two combined to lead the Mustangs past West Suburban Gold rival Hinsdale South 5-1.

The Mustangs advance to the Elite Eight where they will play Crystal Lake South at 1 p.m. Monday at Illinois Benedictine.

“Neither one of our pitchers got a lot of time last year and (Jones) pitched for the sophomores so we hadn’t seen him until this summer,” Mustangs coach Darren Orel said. “They did a great job for us.”

Downers South took advantage of a throwing error in the top of the third inning to grab a 1-0 lead, which soon increased to 4-0 after a big fourth inning.

Corey Vondra (2-for-3, RBI) got the fourth started with a double. After Danny Oriente was hit by a pitch, Ryan Taylor drove in Vondra with a single. First baseman Zach Radde added an RBI single, while a fielder’s choice accounted for Downers Grove South’s third run of the inning.

“I had a rough day yesterday and hitting hasn’t been going too good for me lately,” Vondra said. “It felt good to get things started and to contribute a little today.”

Hinsdale South crossed the plate for its lone time in the bottom of the fourth inning. Nate Overmann (2-for-3) doubled home Tim Dziergas, who had singled.

The Hornets stranded 11 base runners.

“We had plenty of chances but just couldn’t get the big, timely hit,” Hornets coach Paul Hoel said. “That was the story of the game. If we get a big hit early and make it 5-3, maybe it’s a different game. We’ve been getting the hit all summer, but give them credit, they kept us off-stride and we just couldn’t get on them today.”

Kasher saw most of his innings in JV games in the spring, but didn’t balk at the opportunity to pitch with a regional title on the line.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game because they’re a tough team, hitting-wise,” Kasher said. “I just tried to throw strikes. That’s all that was going through my mind. I had my curveball going and that helped keep their batter’s thrown off a bit.”

Bobby Justus scored twice for the Hornets.

Despite the loss, Hoel saw plenty of good things this week that has him excited about the spring.

“We’re a young team and are still figuring out the game,” he said. “I like our chances. We made it to the final 16 (of the tournament) and we’ll be a lot better in the spring then we are now.”

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