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Rams' Moe was simply crazy-good.

Byline: Bill McLean Daily Herald Correspondent

A baseball bat was his oversized stylus, the dirt in the batter's box his canvas.

Coby Moe, packed inside a Grayslake Central No. 33 jersey, drew a "3" near home plate, gently using the top of his aluminum stick to rearrange home soil moments before a playoff at-bat on a date with a "3" (May 30).

"My lucky number," the 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior pitcher would say later.

Luck? Coby Moe needs luck? The sturdy right-hander with the long, flowing locks think of a thicker, curlier version of San Francisco Giants hurler Jeff Samardzija's mane produced numbers this spring that had nothing to do with good fortune, and the last thing he needed in his back pocket was a cleat-covered rabbit's foot.

Moe was Monet on mounds in 2019, owning a 9-2 record and a nanoscopic 0.24 ERA heading into Monday's Class 3A Naperville supersectional against Montini Catholic at North Central College.

The captain of the Daily Herald's Lake County All-Area Baseball Team had fanned 86 batters (with a scant 8 walks) in 58 innings and upped his scoreless-inning streak to 29 after going the distance in the Rams' 2-0 defeat of Carmel Catholic's Corsairs in a Grayslake sectional semifinal May 30.

"It's hard to imagine any pitcher more dominant this year than Coby was," says Rams coach Troy Whalen, who reached career win No. 401 when GC edged Crystal Lake South 3-2 in a sectional final June 1 and improved to 28-7. "Special. He was special all season, laser-focused and clearly a player with D-I talent. Coby took his game to the next level, definitely elevated it, on the mound.

"It was a pleasure to watch him from the dugout."

The Northwestern-bound Moe helped himself quite often with his bat/drawing instrument, hitting a team-high .458 with team-bests of 35 hits and 28 RBI through 33 games. But it's Moe's right wing, the one that unleashed heavy fastballs and startling off-speed pitches for four varsity seasons, that folks will recall fondly for decades.

The most comforting baseball sight for Rams Nation had to be that of the mountainous Moe on a hill.

"Bulldog," says Rams senior left fielder Nic Presutti, one of Moe's good friends. "That's what Coby is when he's pitching. Who wouldn't love it when he's pitching for your team? When he's battling for you on the mound? You know, you just know, he'll give you all he's got and he'll give you what you want when it's his turn to pitch.

"There was no doubt in anybody's mind that we'd get to play for a ship' (sectional championship) when Coby pitched for us in the semifinal."

Carmel Catholic (18-8) generated scoring threats in each of the last three innings in that sectional semifinal on a July-esque May afternoon in Grayslake. With two outs and Corsairs on second and third in the fifth frame, Moe (8 hits allowed, 9 Ks, 1 BB, 104 pitches) induced a groundout to short. In the next inning he responded to a one-out, first-and-second situation with consecutive strikeouts. The Corsairs then opened the top of the seventh inning with a pair of singles before the son of GCHS athletic director Brian Moe turned to watch Presutti catch a languid fly ball in shallow left-center for the final out.

"Coby," Presutti remembers, "was the guy, the best, when he was a Coyotes Select (a Grayslake Youth Baseball Association team) player. I was just a Coyotes player. He was Coby Moe, the talk of the town. Everybody knew Coby. Everybody knew all the things he could do in a baseball game."

Not too long ago, more than a few thought Coby Moe, perennial baseball star, would become Coby Moe, former baseball player.

He was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a condition that causes the intestines to become swollen, two summers ago and underwent surgery before the start of his junior year. A Moe loss in a Slammers travel game suddenly seemed trivial compared to Moe's alarming weight loss.

"I was scared," Presutti says. "All who knew him were scared. I'd never seen him so skinny. We all wondered, Will he ever be able to play baseball again?' Look at him now. What a recovery, huh? He added weight. He's back, and he's playing great baseball again."

Moe better?

Yes, very much so.

A sterling stretch in his 29-inning scoreless streak was a no-no. Rams coaches and Rams teammates could count on Moe to stare down big moments in big games and come up big in 2019.

The respectful, grateful Moe, meanwhile, could not believe his good fortune each time he donned his school's baseball togs.

"How lucky am I?" he says, a few minutes removed from the final out of his final GCHS home game (the playoff win over Carmel Catholic) as a pitcher. "I get to play the game I love, the game that means everything to me, with my best friends. I was also fortunate enough to play in Coach Whalen's 400th win.

"Crazy," the crazy-good hurler adds. "That number is crazy. Coaches must dream about winning that many games, right? Glad I could help."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:McLean, By Bill
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jun 7, 2019
Words:858
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