When I heard that Effingham and St. Anthony agreed to play a doubleheader to open the City Series, I had one initial thought.
Call me a pessimist, but it was "man, if one team sweeps, this is going to drain all the intrigue out of a cool event".That's why there's two sides to every coin; now, the City Series becomes even more intriguing as both teams get a day to prepare for Friday's (weather-permitting) scheduled rubber match after splitting Wednesday's doubleheader. Now, St. Anthony has a chance to do something it has only done twice over the past 15 City Series: take home the crown. Any win in the City Series has been few and far between for St. Anthony since 2006, as the Bulldogs have won just two games in six series (2008's was rained out). They took a step forward last year with a win in game one of the City Series, only to fall in games two and three. Then-junior Ben Hecht twirled a gem, allowing three hits in a complete game 4-1 victory. Who is head coach Kenny Miller planning on pitching in the series-deciding game? Hecht, of course. As if the promise of taking home a City Series in his senior season isn't enough, it's Senior Night at Evergreen Park for Hecht, Jacob Schuette and Charlie Schultz. Hecht, last year's Illinois Class 1A Player of the Year, wanted to pitch on Senior Night, and the outcomes of games one and two bring about another level of drama. He wasn't completely saved in game one, however, as Hecht came on to pitch the sixth inning of a 2-1 game. Drew Levitt laced a leadoff single, and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a balk. Effingham had their chance to get a run off Hecht, opting for an unsuccessful suicide squeeze to tie the game. Effingham showed they could hit Hecht, but capitalizing on opportunities -- for both teams -- will be the key to be crowning the City Series champ. The Hearts did that in game two, scoring four runs in an aggressive fifth-inning effort and won 4-1. Flaming Hearts coach Chris Fleener said the pitching assignment will go to Levitt or Preston Walker, a decision he hadn't quite finished pondering as he left Paul Smith Field Wednesday night. Even as the rain comes down on Thursday and potentially into Friday, Miller said Wednesday night on the radio the series will be decided no matter what, even if they have to postpone it a week or more on account of St. Anthony's postseason play.They owe it to both teams' seniors, Miller said. Whether the two teams finish the series today, tomorrow or on an unknown date, one thing's for certain. The drama, the intrigue, the excitement will definitely be there in spades.