Baseball: Izzaq Zrust, Hall keep Newman off rhythm in Three Rivers East win

Junior pitcher concedes 1 run, strikes out 8 in complete game for Red Devils

Hall’s Izzaq Zrust fires a pitch against Newman Monday, April 15, 2024 at Newman High School.

STERLING – Newman went into Monday’s Three Rivers East matchup against Hall averaging just over 10 runs a game.

In their first meeting against the Red Devils this season, the Comets fell well short of that average. Hall won 5-1 behind a stellar defensive effort at Coach Larry Ybarra Field.

Junior pitcher Izzaq Zrust threw a complete game for Hall, allowing six hits while striking out eight with one walk.

“I thought it was amazing. He pitched amazing,” Hall shortstop Luke Bryant said. “We just had a good defensive group all around.”

Newman (8-4-1, 3-1 TRC East) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on sophomore second baseman Garet Wolfe’s RBI single.

Hall (8-6, 4-1) tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second on a Zrust two-out RBI single to right field.

In the top of the third, the Red Devils scored two runs to take the lead. Center fielder Payton Dye was hit by a pitch, designated hitter Evan Stefaniak reached on a fielder’s choice, and third baseman Joel Koch drew a walk to load the bases.

The two runs followed immediately after.

Hall’s Payton Dye comes down with the ball as Newman’s Isaiah Williams slides in safe at second Monday, April 15, 2024 at Newman High School.

Dye scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch, then left fielder Jack Jablonski reached on an error at short as Stefaniak came around for a 3-1 lead.

“It boosted us up a lot,” Bryant said. “All the confidence up in the dugout was high, the energy was high, the bats were just rolling.”

Newman sophomore pitcher Garret Matznick came on for junior Chase Decker in the top of the fourth. He worked 1-2-3 innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but the Comets could not capitalize on offense.

“We had a good win [against Dixon] Saturday. We kind of talked about avoid being a trap game after that where you don’t come out as strong,” Newman coach Kenny Koerner said. “I thought their pitcher was really good. I thought he was around the zone, and we were a little flat today, so give them credit. Hopefully we’ll get them Thursday when we go down there.”

In the top of the seventh, Hall scored two more runs to cap the scoring. Bryant lined a solo home run to left field to start the rally, then Dye ripped an RBI single to center field to plate the fifth run.

“My approach was to go the opposite way, hit the ball hard,” Bryant said about the home run. “I didn’t even know it was going, I was just trying to stretch it for a triple.”

In the bottom of the seventh, Zrust threw three strikeouts. His final strikeout came against Notre Dame commit Brendan Tunink.

Zrust credited his freshman catcher for helping him excel on the mound.

“Unfortunately, our starting catcher got hurt and we brought our freshman catcher up, Noah Plym,” Zrust said. “He did a great job calling pitches for me, and I was just able to execute.”

Hall center fielder Jax Pinter was 3 for 4, and Bryant hit a solo home run.

Junior right fielder Daniel Kelly and Oswalt each went 2 for 3 to lead Newman at the plate.

Newman’s Garet Matznick starts a 6-4-3 double play against Hall Monday, April 15, 2024 at Newman High School.
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Dan Wussow

Dan Wussow

Dan is the sports editor for Sauk Valley Media. Previously, he wrote for The Post-Crescent in his hometown of Appleton, WI.