Baseball notes: Sandwich looks forward to showcasing pitching depth

Taylor Adams, Chance Lange coming off strong outings for Indians

Sandwich's Tyler Lissman (2) delivers a pitch against Plano during a baseball game at Sandwich High School on Monday, May 1, 2023.

Sandwich coach Jason VanPelt anticipated having a host of arms in a quality pitching staff to throw out there this season, and early returns back up that belief.

Now they just need some games.

On March 21, Sandwich’s Taylor Adams struck out 13 in a two-hitter against Somonauk. Six days later, Chance Lange tossed four no-hit innings with nine strikeouts against Indian Creek. The Indians had back-to-back games this week against Plano postponed but are scheduled to return to action Friday against Freeport. Sandwich has played just six games, with a 2-4 record.

“We looked forward to having a solid pitching staff and depth. We need to get more games to show off that depth that we got,” VanPelt said. “We want to get our guys work.”

Lange has had two strong starts, the other one a 3-1 loss to Coal City, and Tyler Lissman battled bad weather and some uneven control in a 5-0 loss to DeKalb. Sandwich pitchers have allowed a total of only 20 runs through six games.

“We’re struggling to get the bats going early, but it’s not like we’re striking out a lot. We’re just not finding hits,” VanPelt said. “We are putting together some good at-bats, the approach has been good at the plate. We’re just looking to get some games, get the momentum and rhythm going and hopefully collect some wins.”

Sandwich is slated to start Kishwaukee River Conference play Saturday with a doubleheader against Johnsburg.

The uneven schedule due to the weather, coupled with Sandwich’s personnel of mutisport athletes, has made VanPelt adjust his pitching staff accordingly.

“We got guys that are multisport athletes, they’re not throwing a lot during the winter,” he said. “We have to build that arm strength up before conference play, and we’ve done a decent job with that with bullpen sessions. We try to adapt to the weather that is presented to us and go that route.”

Short-handed Yorkville staff set for busy stretch

The inclement weather has hit Yorkville at an inopportune time. The Foxes (4-2) have had five varsity games either canceled or postponed since March 18. Because of those reschedules, Yorkville starting Friday will be playing nine games – including a couple of JVs – over a nine-day stretch.

On top of that packed, compressed schedule, Yorkville will be doing so short-handed, with three of its top pitchers unavailable.

“We are a little thinner now; we had some unforeseen things pop up,” Yorkville coach Tom Cerven said. “With this stretch of games we’re going to find out if some of those role guys are ready to step into bigger roles. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a couple JV guys called up to step into bigger roles. We are thin right now, to say the least.

“The amount of games, us being short-handed, we will find out real quickly who will go out and compete and keep us in games.”

It’s been a challenging spring for the Foxes, who have had games where up to six varsity players were unavailable.

Fortunately, the next week’s games will consist of Southwest Prairie Conference crossover games that do not count in the conference standings and varsity/JV doubleheaders with Morris and Metea Valley.

“If there is going to be a time for this to happen, this would be the time,” Cerven said.

Cerven did note that he anticipates the Foxes getting on their new turf field for a game at some point next week.

Yorkville Christian looking to improve after busy March

Yorkville Christian this week is getting a well-deserved six-day break during this spell of poor weather after a very busy March.

The Mustangs last week played four games in a spring break trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Yorkville Christian went 1-3 with three games against schools from Tennessee and one from Ohio.

“We faced some really good competition down there,” Yorkville Christian coach Sean Bieterman said. “We would have liked to play a little bit closer on the last day, but we saw some really good teams and we’ll be better from it in the long run. It’s a good experience to take the team for the camaraderie and the weather, to leave our state for a few days. The kids get to experience something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

Bieterman said the Mustangs (4-7) are improving, but defense has been a bit of an Achilles’ heel during a challenging March schedule. Of Yorkville Christian’s first 11 games, only one was against a fellow Class 1A school.

“And we have challenged ourselves out of state as well,” Bieterman said. “In terms of strength of schedule you can learn a lot about what you do well and what you need to work on, more so than if you go out and play poorly and still beat someone.”

The veteran coach is still trying to put all three phases together, offense, defense and pitching, with a young group. The program is growing. Yorkville Christian had 15 players out for baseball last year, 24 this year and Bieterman hopes to have teams at all three levels by next year.

“Our wins are going to come as we build,” he said. “Our goal is not to peak this time of year.”