JOLIET | John Kravetz was pumped ever since the last out was recorded Monday night in Mount Carmel's Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional win over Lincoln-Way East at Standard Bank Stadium.
He knew he would get the ball Friday against Lyons Twp., and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Leaders are like that. If coach Brian Hurry wouldn't have given Kravetz the ball, the University of Illinois recruit probably would have taken it.
"Friday, I was so pumped up all day," Kravetz said. "I couldn't wait to pitch. Then their first two guys got hits to start off the game and that smacked me right across the face."
The Lions scored twice in the first inning and, as it turned out, that would be enough. They added two more off Kravetz in the sixth before Chris Sujka scored Mount Carmel's lone run in a 4-1 loss.
While Kravetz and his Mount Carmel teammates may have been knocked down, they kept getting up. Kravetz did not walk anyone and struck out one.
"I didn't have my best stuff today,'" he said. "I give a lot of credit to my fielders. They played well again today."
He may not have had smoke, but Kravetz and Lyons' Zach Remijas both did what they needed to do. Remijas pitched out of jams, while Kravetz put the Lions down in order for three of the next four innings before the two-run sixth.
While he could have talked about his team not giving him much support at the plate, Kravetz chose instead to talk about his experience at Mount Carmel.
"Great four years, and this year was the greatest," Kravetz said. "We had a good time this year and we had a lot of fun, but we were serious when it came to playing (baseball). It was fun to be around everyone on this team."
Likewise for Hurry, who said it is always tough to say goodbye, but especially to this group of seniors. When he, Kravetz and Jeff Boehm were brought into the interview room after Friday's loss, Hurry touched on that.
"It's hard to imagine these guys not being around because they've been such a big part of this program for four years," Hurry said. "The success we had this year was because of the senior leadership, and these two were certainly a big part of that."
Kravetz said he loved playing for Hurry and the program.
"Every day, we loved coming to practice," Kravetz said. "We loved being around each other for two hours or so every day. We were a team."
And Kravetz and the seniors were the key reason the Caravan played as one and got as far as they did.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.