Baseball: Newman dominates Chicago Hope to reach state for 2nd straight year

Sophomore Bushman did not allow a hit through 5 innings

Newman’s Brendan Tunink (left) and Isaiah Williams celebrate with the super-sectional plaque Monday, May 27, 2024 during the Class 2A super-sectional in Rockford. The Comets beat Chicago Hope 6-2.

LOVES PARK – With all-state senior standout Brendan Tunink unavailable to pitch in Monday’s Class 2A Rockford Rivets Stadium Supersectional, Newman Central Catholic sophomore Evan Bushman delivered a gem.

The undefeated Bushman kept Chicago Hope hitless through five innings and threw a complete game to help the Comets cruise to a 6-2 victory and advance to state for the second straight year and first in 2A.

The Comets will play Maroa Forsythe in Friday’s 2A state semifinals at 4 p.m. at Dozer Park in Peoria. Wilmington plays St. Anthony in the second semifinal.

Chicago Hope had only one walk against Bushman through five innings, and Newman’s four-run outburst in the fourth inning turned out to be all the Comets needed in the win.

Bushman pitched to contact and the defense delivered behind him. He also struck out seven, allowing only three hits and one walk.

“The defense was great today,” Newman coach Kenny Koerner said. “How about [Garret] Matznick at short, just a fantastic job there. Pitching and defense today.”

The Newman Comets baseball team have advanced to the state tournament by besting Chicago Hope Monday, May 27, 2024 during the Class 2A super-sectional in Rockford.

It was the opposite for the Eagles as Chicago Hope committed at least seven errors.

“We did take advantage of some miscues on their side and got some timely hits,” Koerner said. “That’s how we play. You’ve just got to grind through them sometimes.”

Koerner credited Bushman’s ability to get the job done.

“He’s that kid that after you go home you can’t figure out how you didn’t score 10 runs against him, but nobody seems to,” he said. “He mixes so well and changes speeds, he’s kind of that Greg Maddux-type back in the day.”

Bushman said everyone made plays on defense after the win.

“I let them hit it, I always trust the infield behind me, and that’s all you really have to do,” he said. “I don’t throw the hardest, obviously, but we got through there and fielded everything. We did great.”

Newman gave away some outs on the bases before breaking through in the fourth inning. Garet Wolfe had an RBI single and Joe Oswalt walked with the bases loaded. Newman scored two more runs on a fielder’s choice and added additional runs the next two innings.

Newman scored five unearned runs in total in the win.

“Couldn’t ask for a better performance on the mound with Evan and just everyone on the field and hitting, too,” Tunink said. “It was just special to be watching them.”

Newman had six hits and three walks against Chicago Hope pitcher Roberto Rey, who pitched all six innings.

Matznick led the team with two singles from the leadoff spot. Tunink was 1 for 3 with a single and was intentionally walked once. He was not available to pitch after closing the sectional title game Saturday.

Getting back to state has required hard work and dedication from the Comets, who have benefitted from a number of younger players also contributing.

“I’m happy for the freshmen that are playing and haven’t been there,” Koerner said. “It’s such a special experience and you’re guaranteed a trophy at this point.”

Williams said the team has unfinished business after finishing third last year in 1A.

“We’re definitely putting a lot more focus into this first game and taking it one game at time,” he said. “It will be nice hopefully having [Tunink] on the bump.”

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Drake Lansman

Drake Lansman

Drake has been a sports reporter with Sauk Valley Media/Shaw Local since May of 2024. He is a Bettendorf native who graduated from Iowa State University. Drake previously covered sports in the Quad Cities area for nine years.