Homewood-Flossmoor High School’s varsity baseball team became IHSA Regional Champions on Monday after defeating Lockport 6-5 in a game played at H-F.
The team is setting its sights on the state championship trophy after the victory over the Lockport Porters. H-F players considered Lockport “underrated,” but they took care of the perceived threat, coming back from an early deficit.
In Monday’s game, the Porters took a 3-1 lead off a home run, but H-F came back thanks to two home runs by Josh McAlister. H-F was hoping to hang on to the 6-3 score, but the Porters didn’t make the victory that easy. With two home runs tacked on, Lockport came within a run of tying the game.
"I thought it was a well-played game by both teams,” said H-F head coach John McCarthy. “Great playoff atmosphere. Our team really stepped up and continued to battle adversity. We are very proud of our effort and attitude along with our willingness to overcome a deficit.
“Our program would like to thank the community for their support at the game. Our kids really thrived off their energy," McCarthy said.
The coach told the Chronicle for him “watching our kids compete and giving the best that they possibly can,” is what’s important.
“We’re proud of this group. For us, it’s not about wins and losses. It’s about trying to bring the best version of these kids out of themselves. That’s really our goal,” he said. “The state tournament’s important. We want to win, but that’s not our most important goal.”
H-F had a record of 19-8 before it won 11-1 over TF South High on Friday to move into the regional championship game against the Porters.
In the standings, H-F is ranked 18th in the state and fourth in its division behind Lincoln-Way East, Marist and Lincoln-Way Central, McCarthy said.
H-F will play Lincoln-Way East at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at L-W East as it continues its battle for the state title. The winner of the sectional will advance to the super-sectional and then state championship tournament play June 17-19.
McCarthy points to shortstop McAlister, outfielder Gallien Coupet, pitcher Waylon Deck, 1st base/pitcher/outfielder Will Goldberg and infielder Shai Robinson as team members who “have really excelled” this year. The team has 14 seniors, and 10 of those have signed to play baseball in college.
Baseball is a team sport and McCarthy said he has a roster of 30 players that he and the coaching staff work with. Assistant coaches are Kevin Coe, Vince Davis, Chris Cunningham and Greg Jones.
“I expect to go to the state championship, but we’ve got to play the game pitch by pitch,” said H-F’s McAlister. The senior has signed to play for The Ohio State University where he will major in health and rehabilitation sciences.
There was no baseball season last spring due to schools shutting down in March 2020. IHSA imposed COVID-19 safety restrictions this past school year that limited sports teams in practices and competitions. Baseball, however, has managed to play a full season. That gave H-F’s ball players time for practice and all its games.
H-F was strict about COVID-19 safety measures and baseball players wore masks when appropriate.
“We’re very aware of spacing, it was critical,” McCarthy explained. “We had to do self-certification, we had to do temperature checks. There were some protocols that we had that were in place right when the kids entered the facility” to make certain players were in a safe environment.
The H-F varsity baseball team members are Carter Anderson, Charlie Anderson, Breyan Brooks, Keegan Buksa, Gallien Coupet, Remington Cox, Waylong Deck, Kobie Davis, Josh Dixon, Patrick Donahue, Charlie Faoro, Nico Galindo, Will Goldberg, Carter Green.
Tommy Haggerty, Cleveland Hardy, Dillon Head, Jaden Jackson, Shane Jones, Colton Karczewski, Sean Lindquist, Preston Lund, Josh McAlister, Troy Paschal, Chad Readey, Richard Robinson III, Shai Robinson, Eric Steiner, Joe Sullivan, Vincent Waterman.