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Sam Adelman, Stevenson win sectional semifinal

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Sam Adelman was playing on Stevenson’s junior varsity team less than two weeks ago, but the late-season promotion for the sophomore third baseman wasn’t just window dressing.

In fact, Adelman was inserted into the No. 2 spot in the Patriots’ batting order immediately, and he quickly proved that the elite bat-to-ball skills he displayed throughout his career were ready for the varsity level.

“After the first game, I was just happy,” Adelman said, referring to his May 16 debut. “You could not get a smile off my face. I was relieved, and everything was great.

“The next day, though, I realized it was another day and we have more games to come and I have to keep working. It didn’t matter that I played on JV all year. I had a job to do.”

It’s a high-stakes job at that, and Adelman hasn’t shirked from the pressure of playing a prominent role during a playoff run. He has been downright dominant. He hit a single in his first plate appearance and is batting .526 in his first six varsity games.

“My first at-bat, I was a little nervous,” Adelman said. “He was throwing a little harder than guys on JV. But I stayed with what I know. When I got to first base, I had a huge smile and just exhaled.”

Adelman’s latest trip to first base was his most consequential. He hit a two-run single during the Patriots’ 6-2 win over Prospect on their home field in the Class 4A Stevenson Sectional semifinals in Lincolnshire on Wednesday afternoon.

Adelman’s hit came with the bases loaded in the Patriots’ five-run second inning, which provided some nice breathing room for the three pitchers that navigated the outing.

“I knew that on my first at-bat, I pulled off a little bit, so I was just trying to calm myself down,” he said. “That was the biggest moment I’ve ever hit in, and I was telling myself, ‘You got this. You got this.’ I got a pitch I could handle, and I drove it the opposite way.”

Stevenson (25-13), which will play Conant (27-7) in the sectional championship game at noon Saturday, worked in reverse on the mound against Prospect (17-16). Sophomore closer Frank Costabile got the first seven outs, allowing one earned run on one hit and four walks. Sophomore Drew Clark then allowed just an infield single and two walks while striking out four in 3 2/3 innings. Senior Ben Fawcett, who started the regional final, pitched a clean seventh inning to close out the win.

“I trusted what the coach’s game plan was, and I just did the best I could coming into that (third) inning,” Clark said. “I threw strikes, and my defense played great and made some amazing plays for me. From there, I built confidence.”

That’s something Clark has long seen from Adelman. They’ve played together for many years and have talked frequently since Adelman was thrust into the spotlight. Adelman’s success doesn’t surprise Clark.

“He’s always been able to hit like this, and he’s doing his best without getting too far ahead of himself,” Clark said. “He’s quick to the ball and always finds a way to get on base. I’m glad he’s been able to help out the team and been a big part of our success so far in the playoffs.”

Adelman’s promotion actually came two games before sophomore first baseman Ryan Martin suffered an injury. Senior Nick Rayyan moved across the diamond to replace Martin, opening up third base for Adelman.

The Stevenson staff was already high on Adelman, and the way he hit the ground running has added to a deep group of young players who have the program pointing upward in future years as well.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him — picked up the game, and we were in a bind for a body, and he’s taken it and run with it,” Stevenson coach Nick Skala said. “He’s putting the bat on the ball, and it seems to be finding holes. When the ball is looking like a beach ball and you’re putting it where they’re not, you’re going to have a lot of success.”

Adelman didn’t know what to expect when he got the promotion, and he’ll have ample time to process things over the summer.

For now, he’s leaning on what got him to this point and is grateful for the opportunity.

“I don’t have much power, but I have quick hands, and I’m able to get the barrel on the ball,” Adelman said. “I try not to be an easy out and try to make the pitcher work. It’s been unreal to have this happen, though. I love it because I love baseball.”

Steve Reaven is a freelance reporter.



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