Glenbrook North baseball shows plenty of good things to build on
Spring, when young men's fancies turn to thoughts of getting the heck out of the gym and onto an actual baseball diamond.
"I totally love it out here, even if it's cold," Glenbrook North center fielder Chase Petersen said after the Spartans' season debut Tuesday against Buffalo Grove, also playing its first game.
"Just being with the guys and being back on a baseball field, there's nothing better."
Maybe a little better for the home team, as nonconference foe Buffalo Grove beat the Spartans 4-2 in 6 full innings in Northbrook before the game was called on darkness. Both teams won at least 22 games in 2022, Glenbrook North going 24-11 and winning a regional title.
As Petersen said, it's not about how they start, it's about where they finish.
"There's a lot of things that we did really well today and then there's some things that we have to get better at, which we'll be able to clean up over the course of the season," said Glenbrook North coach Dom Savino.
"The goal for us is to play our best baseball at the end of the season. So now, once we've entered competition we have an idea of where we're at as a starting point."
Buffalo Grove snapped a 1-1 tie with 3 runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Bison loaded the bases with one out, then courtesy runner Caden Helkowski scored on a wild pitch and Jonah Pomerantz and Matthew Maradkel followed with run-scoring hits. Right fielder Pomerantz went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI.
Though he was lifted after the fifth inning, Bison ace Mason Hulligan earned the win, allowing 2 hits and striking out seven.
"He's as good as anyone around here in my opinion, he's got elite stuff. Throws in the upper 80s, really good breaking ball, and he really set the tone for us and gave our kids a lot of confidence," said Buffalo Grove coach Bill Montemayor.
Facing reliever Payton Diaz in the bottom of the sixth inning, Spartans catcher Kevin Geake singled and scored on Petersen's blast to the left field fence. Diaz escaped further damage and earned the save with a pair of strikeouts and a fly out to end the inning.
Glenbrook North trailed 1-0 when freshman infielder Ethan Bass led off the bottom of the third inning with an opposite-field drive to deep right field for a double. Hulligan struck out the next batter, but Blake Telpner's fielder's choice grounder moved Bass to third and the freshman scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-1.
"In the moment it felt so good," Bass said of his double. He looped a fifth-inning single into left field for a 2-for-2 debut.
"It's definitely a big jump from playing with my own age and (there are) definitely a lot more things to know," he said. "You've got to pick up your teammates, and teammates pick you up. Definitely a big jump to facing sophomores, juniors and seniors, and it's a thing I need to adjust to, but I think I did all right for my first game."
Junior starting pitcher Asher Malin matched Buffalo Grove's Hulligan through three innings, allowing 1 run on 1 hit while striking out five batters. Savino's plan this first week, before the club heads to Orlando over spring break, was to give his deep pitching staff plenty of opportunities, and fellow right-handers N.J. Gott and Colin Roche pitched as well.
"Our plan today was to use three pitchers and I think all three of those young men did a really good job competing on the mound and showed some really good things for us that we can build on," Savino said.