GLEN ELLYN – The summer league baseball season came to an end July 13 for Hinsdale South, but it may just be the beginning.
The Hornets were eliminated from the state playoffs with an 8-1 loss against eventual elite eight qualifier Wheaton North in the Glenbard South regional semifinals, but there was no crying afterward.
“We have great team chemistry,” Hinsdale South shortstop Matt Uba said. “It’s a new set of guys and I think we’ve bonded well.”
The Hornets went 17-8-1 this summer with an untested and relatively unknown roster.
“We had a lot of spots that we were unsure about and we pretty much solidified about seven of the nine,” Hinsdale South coach Paul Hoel said. “We got some guys who swung the bat really well so we feel really confident. Our pitching was great all summer. Our defense, [the regional semifinal] was the worst we played all year.
“One game doesn’t make a summer. We’ve been down like that and won games, so they believe.”
The Hornets weren’t bad against Wheaton North. Hinsdale South made two errors, both in the sixth inning after the outcome was all but decided.
The Falcons (16-7) scored three runs in the top of the first off starter J.R. Rickert and added one more in the fourth and two in the fifth for a 6-0 lead.
South scored its run in the bottom of the fifth on the strength of singles from John Colucci, Uba and Frankie Klemm. The Hornets had only five hits but drew six walks and left 11 men on base, including seven in the last three innings.
“We were so close,” Uba said. “We just needed timely hitting. We didn’t get the hits at the right time, but we got men on.”
Uba, the leadoff hitter, was on base three times via two singles and a walk. He figures to be a key player for the Hornets in the spring. He’s part of a promising pitching staff that includes Colucci, Klemm and Rickert.
Colucci was the ace during the summer, giving up only one hit over his last 12 innings.
“His breaking ball is as good as anybody’s,” Hoel said. “I think he’s the best returning pitcher in our conference.”
Rickert, a junior, is a returnee of a different sort. He did not play baseball the past two seasons.
“He was a volleyball player and from the start [of the summer] to the end, he’s really grown,” Hoel said. “He’s got a really good breaking ball. It’s hard and it’s late.
“We’re really excited for him because he’s got a lot of upside because he stayed in shape and he’s an athlete.”
Uba thinks the Hornets are in good shape for the spring.
“We’re very hungry for next year,” Uba said. “I think we can go pretty far with this group. We’re confident.”