Baseball notes: Oswego East’s Bode Bregar bounces back with brilliant start versus defending Ohio state champs

Wolves’ senior throws complete-game one-hitter; experienced Plano off to encouraging start

Oswego East's Bode Bregar (18) delivers a pitch against Yorkville during a 2023 baseball game at Yorkville High School.

Bode Bregar wasted no time bouncing back from a rough first start to the season.

In a big way.

Oswego East’s senior right-hander only lasted one inning in his team’s season opener March 19, an 11-10 loss at Downers Grove North.

He did a complete 180-degree turn on Monday. Bregar threw a complete-game one-hitter, striking out eight in a 1-0 win over defending Ohio Division-II state champion Kenston High School at an event in Millington, Tenn.

“It felt great to bounce back,” Bregar said. “I knew as soon as that first game was over, I had to put that game behind me and just trust my stuff. It was working, and the guys behind me were solid.”

Both Bregar and Oswego East coach Brian Schaeffer said the key to his success Monday was establishing his slider. Bregar said he got some calls on the outside corner with that pitch early, and as the game wore on also located on the inside part of the zone to keep hitters off balance.

“He was able to locate his slider and get ahead in the count early,” Schaeffer said. “For him, it’s about locating the slider and changeup early. Once he can do that, his confidence is going to be high going against anybody.”

Oswego East, which had made the trip to Tennessee once before, is playing four varsity games and two JV games this week at the USA Stadium complex outside of Memphis in an event featuring teams from all over the country. The Wolves beat Quincy 8-5 on Tuesday.

Schaeffer appreciates getting in games in better weather than Illinois’, but just as important is the team bonding element. The team spent Sunday at the hotel watching the NCAA Tournament together, hit some barbecue restaurants and also went out for miniature golf and bowling.

The Wolves conclude their games Wednesday and return home Thursday.

“The biggest part with this group is getting the guys to jell with each other,” Schaeffer said. “Team bonding, plus play some really good opponents which we’re lucky we’ve been able to do. Teams that you don’t have the opportunity to play usually, top teams in their states. It’s a different challenge.”

Bregar pencils in as Oswego East’s No. 1 starter right now, and it’s not hard to see why. He started once a week in the rotation as a junior. He didn’t throw much during the Wolves’ playoff run to their first sectional title, but was stellar in relief in a supersectional loss to Edwardsville.

“He’s definitely continued to improved in the mental aspect,” Schaeffer said. “He’s a constant student of the game, working to understand his own pitching. Him and [former Oswego East pitcher] Pat Flynn really connected on that, working through situations. He’s a bit stronger, throws a little bit harder, but the mental growth has been the biggest thing.”

Bregar said he worked on his slider in the offseason, and lifted to stay in shape. He was sidelined for a couple months during the fall with a shoulder impingement, but used that time to watch videos of himself and work on his pitch grips.

“My goal for my pitching is just to be consistent,” Bregar said. “I’m just trying to be a leader and do whatever I can do help the guys around me, and give solid innings every time I’m out there.”

Plano's Kaden Aguirre (99) delivers a pitch against Sandwich during a baseball game at Sandwich High School on Monday, May 1, 2023.

Experienced Plano off to encouraging start

Plano, like Oswego East, is in the Memphis area this week for four varsity games. The Reapers, with 15 of 16 rostered players returning from last year’s 6-27 team – many of them seniors and third-year varsity players – are off to an encouraging start. Plano is 3-2 and has scored a total of 30 runs in its three wins.

“I like where we are at,” Plano coach Nate Hill said. “We are a veteran group. We are able to do some different things and really go deeper into baseball, in a lot of ways coaching real baseball in a way we haven’t been able to do in the past. We’re more detailed sequencing with pitchers, doing different things on the basepaths, deeper communication with our catchers.

“With as many seniors and returning players as we had, we’re just picking up where we left off.”

Leading the way is returning all-conference pitcher/outfielder Kaden Aguirre, a Wisconsin-Platteville commit. Aguirre is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA with 17 strikeouts and just eight hits and five walks allowed over 10 innings. He’s also batting .357 while hitting fifth, behind brother Rylan Aguirre.

“His ability to locate the fastball first and foremost is key for him,” Hill said. “When he’s getting his fastball over for strikes it allows him to throw his curveball and changeup, and he’s working to add a slider. That was his best pitch last week versus Genoa-Kingston. When he gets ahead in the count and can mix up his pitches, he’s dangerous.

“With his bat, he always had the ability. He hit a home run or two last year. It was eliminating the swing-and-miss in his game. Right now, he’s making solid contact.”

The most dangerous bat in the Reapers’ lineup belongs to sophomore Jason Phillips. Honorable mention all-conference in the Interstate 8 as a freshman, Phillips is batting .667 over 15 plate appearances on the young season with three of his eight hits going for extra bases.

In his first at-bat of the season, the 6-foot-1, 257-pound No. 3 hitter launched a home run to straightaway center in an eventual win over Aurora Central Catholic. He finished off a four-hit day in the 9-8 victory by going the opposite way for a double.

“He really just has an advanced approach for a sophomore,” Hill said. “He’s able to use the whole field and understands counts. It’s really just getting him to understand when more to attack and when to wait on something to do more damage. When he is right and on time, the ball goes a long way off the bat.”