Head Coach Frank Consiglio was confident in his team’s chances going into their first playoff game at home against a familiar foe in Maine South. The Evanston Township High School baseball team defeated the Hawks twice in the regular season, but it seemed the Hawks had learned from their mistakes.

Nick Calabrese has the green light to bunt any time he wants to, according to Maine South coach Bill Milano, and his two-out bunt single in the third inning sparked Maine South’s biggest inning of the season in the Class 4A Evanston Regional semifinals.

Led by Calabrese’s well-placed bunt, the Hawks pushed across seven unearned runs against Evanston ace Jordan Crawford and toppled the No. 7-seeded Wildkits 8-2.

Calabrese, a junior who bats leadoff for the Hawks, pushed a two-out bunt down the first-base line that scored pinch-runner Larry Darlak from third base and broke up a scoreless deadlock. Two costly Evanston errors, along with singles by Hawks players Jimmy Frankos, Will Krug, Kyle Richardson, Chris Roombos and A.J. Sus, continued the carnage until Crawford finally got the last out.

“That was Nick’s read all the way,” Milano said. “That little bunt was really a huge play by him. He’s open to bunt any time he wants to, and he’s done that before for us. We always talk to the kids about how playing small ball can lead to something big.”

“Their first baseman [Max Siedlecki] was in on the first pitch, but I saw him move back after the second pitch, so I laid it down,” Calabrese said. “That got the rally going. With the way their pitcher was pitching me, on the outside corner, it was just easier to push it that way. We just came in

ETHS coach Consiglio admired the bunt’s execution, but said the Wildkits should have limited the damage right there.

“It’s a 0-0 game and that kid makes an unbelievable baseball play,” said Coach Consiglio. “But that inning should have ended at 1-0. That was a mental toughness inning and I love the mentality that Maine South always brings. That’s such a well-coached team and even though we beat them twice before, their mindset was if you’re gonna beat us, you have to earn it. That’s exactly where I want our mindset as a team to be someday.

“It’s a credit to our kids’ character that they didn’t fold after that big inning, because I don’t know of many teams that wouldn’t. They tried to make the best of it even after they got down 7-0. We have some great kids here.”

Maine South collected 11 hits against Crawford and relievers Jack Anderson and Justin Kleschen, but only scored once more, when John Fabiano hit a solo home run leading off the top of the seventh against Kleschen. Calabrese went 2 for 4 with a run scored and Sus went 2 for 2 with a walk for the winners.

Evanston scored twice in the fourth on a bases-loaded double by Ameer Cannon against winning pitcher John Forsythe. Reliever Keenan Kelly, sidelined by shoulder tightness for the last couple of weeks, retired all six batters he faced for the Hawks.

Injuries to Mark Johnson, Gabe Derman and Matt Carmichael left the Wildkits at less than full strength for the second straight year late in the season and left Consiglio wondering what might have been for this group of seniors, including seven starters.

Johnson watched

“A guy like Gabe was nowhere near 100 percent

“This group of seniors has had a huge influence on the program and they showed the type of work ethic it takes just to be good, be consistent and be able to compete at a high level. They really carried this program. Now we need to figure out what it takes to win, come playoff time.”

today really prepared to do whatever it takes to win. We play small ball all the time, and today it led to a great inning.”Saturday’s game in street clothes, Derman was limited to a designated hitter role, and Carmichael only pitched in two games all spring after he was expected to be the staff ace on the mound this year.today, and it’s a credit to him the way he tried to gut it out and perform,” Coach Consiglio said. “This is a great group of kids, but we were depleted here at the end for the second year in a row, and I honestly don’t know why. We’ve taken every precaution to try to keep everyone healthy, but in the end we were still without some key components. It’s disheartening for them because you only get one senior year.

“This group of seniors has had a huge influence on the program and they showed the type of work ethic it takes just to be good, be consistent and be able to compete at a high level. They really carried this program. Now we need to figure out what it takes to win, come playoff time.”