At the time, it looked like Luke Bellizzi’s second two-run hit Monday would be part of a blowout win for Jacobs.
A late rally by Harvest Christian made those runs really count, however.
Jacobs held on for a 12-7 nonconference win under the lights at Judson University in Elgin, and those early clutch hits from the senior third baseman came in handy.
“We didn’t know those hits would be so big,” Bellizzi said. “It was 10-1. We didn’t think it would be like that. Good fightback by them, but we just finished it off.”
Jacobs (3-1) led 3-1 going into the top of the third inning, when seniors Tyler Jacobsen and Matt Smolzer drew walks before Bellizzi brought them around with a two-out, two-run double to make it 5-1.
The Golden Eagles appeared to blow it open against Harvest (2-2) with a five-run fifth. Bellizzi singled in Smolzer and junior Grant Helbig, and sophomore No. 9 hitter Anthony Edge added a two-run double to push it to 10-1.
“Luke played third base for us on the summer state team (in 2019),” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “It’s a group where we have great senior leadership with some really talented juniors and sophomores we can plug in. We have great leaders. You have to have senior leaders. Everybody is buying in.”
Junior Nathan Chapman pitched four solid innings to start it off for Jacobs before ceding to the bullpen.
Harvest got to work at that point. The Lions scored twice in the bottom of the fifth and then posted a four-run sixth to cut the lead to 10-7. Freshman Eloy Suarez had the big blow, a two-out, two-run single. He had four RBIs in the game.
“I couldn’t be happier with a loss,” Harvest coach Matt Ellett said. “We didn’t give up. For me, it’s all about how much fight is in this team, and we clearly had that. I’m confident that we’re going to get clicking at the right time. I like what we’ve got. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Despite the fact that Harvest is in Class 2A and Jacobs is in 4A, the challenge was exactly why Murray wanted to play the Lions.
“They’re a solid team,” Murray said. “We knew they could test us for the Fox Valley (Conference). It was a good game. We had our foot on the pedal for a while, but we have to get 21 outs. It’s a collective of guys contributing in different ways for us.”
Jacobs was geared up for a memorable 2020 after reaching the summer state tournament in 2019. Several players, including Bellizzi, who got experience in that run are shaping this team.
“Two years ago, we were 15-21, but we had 22 guys that were coming back last year,” Murray said. “You take it on the chin for a little bit, but it pays off down the road.”
Bellizzi knew Jacobs was ready this spring. Through four games, the Golden Eagles’ only loss is to highly touted St. Charles North.
“These kids wanted to play,” Bellizzi said. “I know it from all the workouts in the fall and winter. We just came out wanting to play this year.”
Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.