Baseball: Naperville North's Cordeiro shines against Oswego East
Harrison Cordeiro kicked the mud off his cleats on a few occasions, but the Naperville North senior didn't let the conditions affect his stuff.
He's now the Huskies' ace. He looked the part Wednesday.
Naperville North's senior right-hander shook off a light drizzle that intensified as the game progressed to strike out 11 batters in a sharp outing.
Oswego East's Liam Mitchell touched Cordeiro with a solo homer in the top of the fifth inning for the game's lone run in a game suspended later in the fifth with the Wolves leading Naperville North 1-0.
It was not an official game, but Cordeiro will gladly take a performance like this in his back pocket.
"Everything felt good today," Cordeiro said. "I was telling people I probably would have thrown a no-hitter if the mound was a bit better because of the rain. Everything was on. My curveball was there, fastball located, tough conditions, battled through it."
With rain in the forecast, it was debatable if a game could even be played Wednesday. But Cordeiro and his counterpart, Oswego East junior Griffin Sleyko, dazzled in the dreary elements.
Cordeiro struck out the side around Josh Polubinski's two-out double in the first inning, and only allowed one other baserunner until Mitchell's one-out homer in the fifth. He retired eight batters in a row at one point.
"I prepare like I'm playing no matter the conditions," Cordeiro said. "They said there was a chance to play so I was getting ready. When coach said it was game on I went out there and gave it all I got."
He was more than ready to keep going to, striking out the last batter of the game after Mitchell's homer.
"Harrison, he's always out there to pitch," said Naperville North's Tanner Mally, who had both of the Huskies' hits. "You saw him at the end, when we got canceled he wanted a few more batters. He's a good guy and a good teammate."
Cordeiro will be counted on to lead the Huskies' pitching staff after they graduated their top two pitchers from last season. He went 4-2 as a junior with 39 strikeouts in 30 innings, and threw a complete-game one-hitter against West Aurora in his first start of the season March 17.
Clearly, he's embraced the high stakes role of staff ace.
"I'm super confident in my abilities," he said. "Getting to go out there, and the whole team expects me to go through five innings, it puts pressure on me but I love that. I love being a pitcher, having to perform well under pressure."
Naperville North (2-0), while managing just two hits, had baserunners in all four innings off Sleyko -- but couldn't capitalize with the big hit.
The best opportunity came in the fourth when Patrick Graham and Ryan Yurcus walked to start the inning, and a couple steals and a balk put them at second and third with none out.
But Sleyko, who struck out nine, came back to strike out the next three batters, stalking off the mound after getting a swinging third strike on a slider.
The lanky 6-foot-4 junior, expected to slot in behind Vanderbilt recruit Noah Schultz and Wichita State commit Ashton Izzi on the Oswego East (0-1) staff, was making his first varsity appearance.
"I had to battle back in that inning, walked a couple guys and the balk. I didn't think it was a balk but I had to overcome it," Sleyko said. "I just got in the zone."
For Naperville North's part, Mally was glad to get out on the field after a number of cancellations in the early going.
"We've had a lot of cancellations but the two games we've had I really like the way our team is looking this year," Mally said. "I think we're really together. Maybe we don't have the guy that throws 95, or a homer every at bat, but we have good depth. I think we're going to make a good run this year and opens up some eyes."