The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 17, 2013

Comets advance to title matchup

BY CHAD DARE
Commercial-News

TOLONO —  With nine hits, someone may think that Oakwood was swinging the bat well during Thursday’s IHSA Class 2A regional semifinal against Monticello.

Those people were not at Unity High School to see the Comets defeat the Sages 5-1 to advance into Saturday’s championship game.

“We didn’t pound the ball like we did a week ago,’’ Oakwood coach Bob Sermak openly admitted. “We got some breaks today.’’

Oakwood, which improves to 17-6, scored three times in the fifth inning on basically four infield singles, a wild pitch and a Monticello throwing error.

“We got three runs without getting the ball out of the infield in one inning — we were fortunate,’’ Sermak said.

But, that was more than enough offense for Oakwood senior Jake England.

The right-hander, who earlier this week signed to play at Danville Area Community College next year, allowed just one run on five hits as he tossed his fifth complete game of the season.

“It was a struggle at the beginning,’’ said England, who struck out six and retired seven of the final eight batters he faced. “The team pulled this one out with those three runs in the fifth. I just made sure that those runs stood up after that.’’

England, who had one of the four infield singles in the fifth, said he thought the long layoff from Friday’s regular-season finale to the regional semifinal was a factor.

“We had been hitting the ball all week, but I think that long break messed with us,’’ he said.

For England, it didn’t matter as long as the Comets were advancing to Saturday’s championship game.

“I’ve played for coach Sermak for four years and I haven’t been to a regional championship game,’’ he said. “I know that’s been a while since Oakwood has won a regional title.

“That’s our goal.’’

It’s been eight years since the Comets hoisted a regional championship plaque, but they will get a chance on Saturday against the host, Unity Rockets. First pitch is set for 11 a.m.

“Hopefully, we hit the ball better on Saturday,’’ Sermak said.

Oakwood junior Kalob Thompson had an infield single driving home a run in the fifth and he also got an RBI when he drew a bases-loaded walk in the third inning.

The only extra base hit for the Comets came from freshman Taylor Turner in the sixth inning. Turner scored the game’s final run on a wild pitch after reaching on a 1-out double to left.