Baseball | Justin Lang’s heroics lift Marist over H-F
By Steve Millar
Marist had let a late lead slip away and was down to its final three outs, but senior shortstop Justin Lang was not too worried.
“I feel like we just didn’t lose our energy,” Lang said. “That was a big part of it. In the middle of the game, we started to go down with our energy and I felt like that’s when we started losing the game.
“But we have a lot of great hitters, so we knew we still had a good chance. Our energy picked up and we got going.”
Lang certainly got going. He capped a four-RBI performance with a game-winning two-run single in the seventh inning as the visiting RedHawks edged Homewood-Flossmoor, 9-8, on April 2.
Lang also had a pair of sacrifice flies for Marist (5-3).
“Justin Lang had a great game,” Marist coach Kevin Sefcik said. “He was our guy in this game. He’s putting the ball in play and doing little things, and then he got rewarded for hitting the ball hard.”
After the Vikings (6-2) scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to rally for an 8-7 lead, the RedHawks’ answer started with back-to-back walks drawn by brothers Owen and Quinn Duffy.
Jack Wade followed with a sacrifice bunt to move both brothers into scoring position.
Lang then delivered in the clutch, ripping the first-pitch up the middle for a single to give Marist the lead.
“Coach Sefcik was telling me to look at their infield and see where they are,” Lang said. “I was just trying to do a job, just trying to hit it up the middle or get a fly ball, and I got it on the first pitch and got it done.”
John McAuliffe worked the final 1 2/3 innings on the mound for Marist, shutting H-F down in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.
“We’ve been doing a good job with that all year,” Sefcik said of his battling back. “The boys are playing hard. Like everybody else, when we get the pitching, we’re usually doing OK; and if we’re not, it’s tough.”
Lang produced sacrifice flies in both the third and fifth innings in addition to his hit in the seventh.
“I try to get the job done for my teammates, because they’re like family,” Lang said.
Lang was a standout guard on the RedHawks’ basketball team, and has had to make the quick transition back to baseball.
“It takes a little bit to get used to, but I’m starting to get back into it now,” he said.
Collin Jennings went 2-for-4 with two runs, Owen Duffy scored three runs, Quinn Duffy had two RBI, and Cal Sefcik produced an RBI single and scored two runs as the Marist offense was clicking from top to bottom.
The win capped a big week for Marist, which shook off a 16-2 blowout loss to Huntley on March 27, bouncing back the following day for a 5-0 win over Lincoln-Way West, a Class 4A sectional champion in 2022.
That started a three-game winning streak for the RedHawks, who also beat Plainfield North 7-3 on March 30 before the victory over H-F.
“We had one clunker (against Huntley) where we were playing a very good team and we didn’t play well, and we got our butts handed to us,” Kevin Sefcik said. “But then we came back the next day and beat Lincoln-Way West, so that was good stuff.”
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