OGLESBY – Like any sport, baseball is about taking advantage of opportunities and capitalizing on an opponent’s mistakes.
Through seven innings in Monday afternoon’s Interstate 8 Conference game at Dickinson Field, visiting Sycamore and La Salle-Peru each had prime chances but were unable to break a scoreless tie.
Then in the eighth, with the expected rain finally reaching the Illinois Valley, the Spartans (5-4, 3-1 I-8) pushed across a run after an error in the top half of the inning. However, the Cavaliers were able to tie the game in their half on an RBI double by freshman Seth Adams, and then secure their first win of the season after Mason Lynch was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give the hosts 2-1 extra-inning triumph.
“We are starting to get confidence in ourselves and trust our abilities which is a sign of a team starting to get it.”
— La Salle-Peru baseball coach Matthew Glupczynski
“We have been battling to get that first win all season, and other than last Friday, we’ve been in every game,” said L-P coach Matthew Glupczynski, whose team is 1-5 overall and 1-3 in I-8 play after dropping its first five games this season, four by a combined seven runs. “We are a really young team with only one senior with varsity experience, so we are still learning to get out of our own way sometimes. We are starting to get confidence in ourselves and trust our abilities which is a sign of a team starting to get it.”
Sycamore’s eighth began with leadoff man Blake Novinsky’s infield single to the hole at short off of Lynch, who relieved starter Julius Sanchez in the seventh. Novinsky moved to second on a walk by Tommy Townsend in between a popout and strikeout. Then on Griffin Hallhan’s squibber up the third-base line, Lynch’s throw to first sailed over first baseman Aidan Van Duzer’s head to allow Novinsky to score.
“This was a great high school baseball game through seven innings,” Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said. “With the rain coming I didn’t want the game to turn into something like this with the weather affecting things but sure enough, it did for both sides. Both teams had numerous chances to score all game long but just couldn’t get that next hit. We got a break there in the eighth and they capitalized in their half.”
L-P’s Aidan Van Duzer (3 for 3) started the bottom half of the eighth with a double down the left field line off Hallahan, who replaced starter Ethan Storm in the sixth but was thrown out at third after trying to advance after the outfield throw was overthrown. Nolan Van Duzer (2 for 2) and Billy Mini then both drew walks, followed by Adam’s two-bagger down the line in left. A walk to Alex Galindo loaded the bases before Lynch was hit by a pitch to push the winning run across the plate.
“I feel bad for Griffin. He was out there throwing a soaking wet baseball. At that point, it really isn’t pitching, it’s more like damage control,” said Cavanaugh, whose team left five runners in scoring position. “Both starters were lights out and pitched around a few mistakes. I will say we got away from our game plan of making sure we put the ball in play. The strike zone looked good to me all game long and we struck out 14 times, to me if you strike out that many times it’s going to be tough to win.”
For the starting pitchers, Storm went five innings, allowing four hits, with one walk and eight strikeouts, while Sanchez worked six innings, giving up five hits, one base on balls, and fanned 11.
“Julius is our No. 1 and has thrown well for us all season,” Glupczynski said. “He was solid again today through six, and Mason Lynch (2 IP, 3 K) came in and did a good job in relief, especially with the rain coming down.
“No matter what the outcome of the game today would have been, I loved the way we battled from the first pitch to the last. That being said, I couldn’t be happier for the guys to get it done and get that first win. I feel like as a team we’ve put more and more pressure on ourselves each time out to find the win column, now hopefully with this one today we can relax and just play.”
Both teams are scheduled back in action at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sycamore visiting Rochelle, while L-P hosts Morris.
I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016.
I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.