Baseball: L-P explodes for 9 runs in fifth in win over rival Ottawa

Cavaliers earn first Interstate 8 Conference victory of season

L-P's Nolan Van Duzer makes contact with the ball against Ottawa at Huby Sarver Field inside the L-P Athletic Complex on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in La Salle.

LA SALLE – With two runners on base in the bottom of the fifth inning, La Salle-Peru senior Nolan Van Duzer launched a towering shot that flew over the left field fence.

Van Duzer’s teammates flooded out of the dugout as he trotted around the bases and mobbed him when he reached home plate.

The Cavaliers had plenty to celebrate.

Van Duzer’s three-run blast put an exclamation point on L-P’s 15-3, five-inning victory over rival Ottawa on Tuesday in the first night game at Huby Sarver Field and gave the Cavs their first Interstate 8 Conference victory of the season.

“It was huge,” Van Duzer said about hitting the game-ending homer. “It’s something you dream about. I’m just thankful. It was a rough start to the game. I had two strikeouts. But you just have to move on and get the next at-bat.”

The Cavs (8-13, 1-7 I-8) were swept by Kaneland and Morris to start the conference season, then allowed a late lead to slip away in Monday’s series opener against the Pirates.

After a back-and-forth first three innings, L-P took the lead for good in the fourth, then exploded for nine runs in the fifth to end the game.

L-P's Brandon Foreman throws a pitch as Ottawa's Jace Veith leads off second base at Huby Sarver Field inside the L-P Athletic Complex on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in La Salle.

“It’s really, really nice getting the monkey off our back,” L-P coach Matt Glupczynski said. “It’s always sweeter when you play Ottawa. I’m very excited for the boys. Everybody knows that we’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately, and to their credit, they kept fighting. They keep bringing it every day. They haven’t packed it in. Tonight was the result of a lot of hard work and confidence.”

L-P took an early lead when Jack Jereb led off the bottom of the first with a single and later scored on a two-out double by Jacob Gross.

The Pirates grabbed the lead with sacrifice flies by Jaxon Cooper and Garrett Shymanski in the second inning.

Gross ripped a two-run double in the third to put the Cavs back in front 3-2 before Ottawa tied it with an RBI single by Cooper in the top of the fourth.

L-P took control in the bottom half of the frame.

Seth Adams hit an RBI single to right field that brought in a second run when the ball was mishandled, and Brendan Boudreau followed with a run-scoring single of his own to right field.

The Cavs broke it open in the fifth.

Jereb hit an RBI single, Boudreau hit a bases-clearing double, and Gross drove in his fourth run of the game with a single to center before Van Duzer’s homer.

“We got a few runners on and we got big hits, which we need to do every time,” said Gross, who went 3 for 4 with two doubles, four RBIs and a run.

L-P finished with 14 hits, including five for extra bases.

“The last game in the last series against Morris, the score didn’t indicate it, but we had 11 hits,” Glupczynski said. “We carried it over to the first game against Ottawa. We had eight or nine hits. We were starting to swing the bats again and swing it with confidence, and I think we were finally able to break through tonight.”

Brandon Foreman earned the win as he tossed a complete game, allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter.

“Brandon Foreman did an unbelievable job,” Glupczynski said. “He came out early and didn’t really have his best stuff, but he battled and he seemed to get sharper as the innings went on.”

Cooper finished 1 for 2 with two RBIs for the Pirates (7-13, 2-6), while Colin Fowler took the loss.

“It was a tough one,” Ottawa coach Tyler Wargo said. “We had a hard time getting people out on the mound. We didn’t get a big hit like we did [Monday] night in terms of tacking on. Being up 2-1 going into the third, being able to tack on and get more would have put pressure on them, and we didn’t do that. They got two more in the third, and that’s where the wheels kind of fell off. We have to do a better job making sure the wheels don’t fall off. Even if they get two or three, we have to keep it together and focus on getting back to the plate.

“You have to give credit to them. They hit the snot out of the ball.”

Ottawa's Lucas Farabauch steps on home plate to score a run against L-P at Huby Sarver Field inside the L-P Athletic Complex on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in La Salle.
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