Twenty-seven bleached blond teenagers from Crystal Lake South whipped baseball hats in the air and stormed the field Saturday at Slammers Stadium in Joliet, celebrating the school’s first state championship in 37 years.
Crystal Lake South capped off a sensational playoff run with an 8-3 win against Edwardsville in the Class 4A title game. The Gators beat four 30-win teams in their last four games.
“It’s huge accomplishment,” said Crystal Lake South coach Brian Bogda. “It means a lot for our community and for these boys obviously. I think it says a lot about our conference too.”
Junior Noah Tyrrell was the star of the semifinal win against New Trier and pulled off a repeat performance against Edwardsville. He was 3-for-4 with a triple, home run and five RBI (a Class 4A title game record).
Tyrrell had two home runs and nine RBI in the two games at state. He had no home runs and 16 RBI in the regular season. The big-game success left him shellshocked.
“I just got hot at the right time,” Tyrrell. “That’s really basically it. I was just more relaxed. That caused me to get more hits I guess.”
Andrew Engelking (9-0) pitched a complete game to earn the win. He allowed five hits and two earned runs, walked one and struck out eight.
The team-wide blond hair is a new phenomenon.
“After we won sectionals against Huntley we all decided to bleach our hair,” Tyrrell said. “I guess it gave us good luck. My mom didn’t really like it. She wants me to die it back tomorrow. I’m going to keep it.”
Crystal Lake South (36-5) finished fourth in 1993. The last state title in any sport came in 1980 in boys golf.
“It just feels great to have first place, especially when we weren’t even ranked at the beginning of the year,” Tyrrell. “Being a family really helped us. This is a great experience.”