OSWEGO – Ashton Izzi has the stuff of an ace, and he also has the strut.
On a crisp and cold Tuesday evening in front of a large crosstown crowd, Izzi stalked the mound with the command of a kid who owns that particular piece of real estate.
“I feel like I’m in charge when I’m on the bump,” said Izzi, an Oswego East junior right-hander and Wichita State commit. “I know I’m in control of the game and I have the game in my hands.”
The Wolves are in good hands with Izzi.
A day after fellow junior Noah Dowler threw a shutout in the opener of the crosstown series, Izzi matched that masterpiece. He struck out nine in six shutout innings, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning of a 4-0 win over Oswego at Jackie’s Field of Dreams.
Oswego East (6-6, 4-4 Southwest Prairie West) will go for the series sweep Thursday after twin shutouts by its two juniors. Like Monday, Donovan Zielke closed out the shutout Tuesday with a perfect seventh.
“It was an awesome tonight, the atmosphere, the energy, being out there on the mound and helping my team get the win,” said Izzi, who allowed two hits and three walks over 87 pitches. “Noah brought it yesterday, and I wanted to bring the same thing today.”
Wolves’ coach Matt Engelhardt has come to expect it from Izzi, and he did so again Tuesday.
Izzi worked around one-out walks in the first and second innings, and retired eight consecutive batters between the second and fifth innings. Seven of Izzi’s last nine recorded outs came by strikeout, and he struck out the side in his last inning, the sixth, to strand two runners on base.
“We know we’re going to get a quality start every single time out of Ashton and he can do that, and he can do that week in and week out,” Engelhardt said. “It always makes your offense feel good that even on a cold night, when it’s tough to hit, that one or two runs will do it. The guys are pumped.”
Oswego (9-6, 4-4), held to five hits by Dowler Monday, wasn’t feeling particularly good.
The Panthers had just five baserunners, none reaching third base. Nathan Kennedy singled to lead off the fifth for Oswego’s first hit, but Jonas Gulbrandsen threw him out trying to leg it into a double. Gavin Arseneau’s one-out double in the sixth accounted for Oswego’s only other hit.
“It’s like a broken record. Two hits ain’t going to be enough to win a ballgame,” Oswego coach Joe Giarrante said. “We’re going to have to keep battling. Day off tomorrow will probably do us some good. Regroup and find our swings, get back at it.”
Oswego East (6-6, 4-4), like it did Monday, used small ball to get on the board.
Jackson Lamboley was hit by a pitch leading off the third inning, and Gulbrandsen followed with a flare to left that dropped, the runners aggressively taking second and third. One out later Nick Caruso dropped down a squeeze bunt, and both runners came home for a 2-0 lead when the throw to first sailed wide.
“That was our third or fourth [squeeze] in the last week,” Engelhardt said. “It’s nice to strike early in this conference. It allows you to play looser and Nick did a great job of getting it down.”
Gulbrandsen singled in the fourth inning to score Ryan Hudson to make it 3-0, and Gulbrandsen’s fielder’s choice in the sixth brought in Hudson with the fourth run.
Oswego East, winning for the fifth time in six games, pulled its record back to .500 for the first time since the season’s second game.
“We’ve put together back-to-back good weeks; hopefully we can keep it going and just play consistent ball,” Engelhardt said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about. We’re getting closer to putting those three facets together.”
Lamboley had two hits and reached base all four times and Gulbrandsen also had two singles for Oswego East.
“It feels good to come get these wins after a tough week a couple weeks ago,” Izzi said. “We’ve got this thing back on track and we want to get a winning record now.”
I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.