Baseball: Three teams tied after opening week of DuKane play
The high school baseball season is still in its infancy, with local teams battling the elements of bone-chilling temperatures, occasional snow squalls, rainouts and winds gusting over 50 mph.
Following the opening week of the DuKane Conference campaign, the Fox Valley teams are off and running.
Geneva, St. Charles East, and St. Charles North carried identical 3-0 conference records into the week, with Batavia right on their heels at 2-1, followed by Wheaton North (1-2), Glenbard North, Lake Park and Wheaton Warrenville South at 0-3 each.
Geneva outscored Glenbard North 44-21 during its 3-game sweep, capped by last Thursday's 24-9, windblown victory in Carol Stream.
The Vikings (6-3) trailed at one point in every game against the Panthers.
In Game 1 last Monday, Glenbard North led 2-0 after 3 innings and 2-1 after 4 before the Vikings put up an 8-spot in the decisive fifth frame.
Blake Stempowski and Ryan Huskey each had a pair of hits, while Nate Stempowski added a double and 3 RBI.
Daniel Alworth worked 5 innings of 2-run, 3-hit ball with 5 strikeouts to record the win.
In Game 2, the Vikings overcame deficits of 5-3 after 3 ½ innings and 6-5 after 5 ½ innings during its thrilling 9-8 win in Geneva.
Jackson Dibble, Carson Sprague, Alworth and Huskey each delivered 2 hits, while Huskey added a pair of RBI.
Last Thursday, the Vikings' offense erupted with 20 hits -- 11 of them extra-base hits -- after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning.
Sophomore Nate Stempowski went 5-for-5 with a home run and 6 RBI, while Alworth added a home run and 4 RBI. Tommy Maynard went 4 for 5 with a double and 3 RBI, while Blake Stempowski belted a home run and 3 RBI.
"I was happy about how we did not try to do too much with the strong winds blowing," said Vikings coach Brad Wendell. "We hit the ball hard and good things happened."
During the 3-game series, the Stempowski brothers finished 12 for 22 with 2 homers, 14 RBI, and 11 runs scored.
"Blake is hitting .407 with a team-leading 1.367 OPS," said Wendell. "Nate was hitting .077 after four games but is now at .357 after adding the past four games.
"I hope to see our offensive production continue against the quality arms and teams we will see in coming weeks. Our guys are working hard to improve. We just hope the weather turns soon."
St. Charles East (6-1-1, 3-0) relied on superb pitching and defense during its 3-game sweep of Lake Park.
Led by starting pitchers Gavin Sitarz, Seth Winkler and Nathan Hayes, the Saints limited the Lancers to 2 runs in 3 games -- with shutouts from Sitarz and Hayes.
Sitarz, a Michigan State-bound left-hander, set the stage with 6 scoreless innings during the Saints' 2-0 series-opening victory last Monday.
"The defense came through big-time," said Sitarz. "They were just making plays left and right. I couldn't do it without them.
"One of the things I've been working on is to get ahead in the count and attack hitter more because I know we've got a great defense."
Sitarz, who worked on strength training in the offseason, also worked at improving his off-speed pitches.
"I continued to work on my slider," he said. "That was kind of my go-to pitch last year. This year, I'm starting to throw my changeup more often. I had some success with that last game, and I'm hoping to build on it."
Junior third baseman Jake Zitella smacked a pair of 2-run home runs in the first 2 games of the series.
"I'm just doing what I can to help my team out," said Zitella. "Last year, we got swept by Lake Park, 4-0, so I really wanted to beat them this year."
St. Charles North swept its 3-game series with Wheaton Warrenville South, averaging nearly 14 runs per contest.
The North Stars, led by senior catcher Jayden Lobliner and junior Anthony Estrada, face Wheaton North in a 3-game series this week.
Despite dropping a 4-3 decision to Wheaton North in its series opener, Batavia responded with a 10-6 victory in last week before taking the finale, 18-8 in 5 innings, last Thursday.
Joe Kleist was the tough luck losing pitcher in the opener despite tossing a complete game with 5 strikeouts.
Anthony Johnson went 2 for 3 with a double, RBI and 2 runs scored, while junior Kiran Yasuda pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the Bulldogs' 10-6 win.
In the series finale, Batavia put the game out of reach with a 7-run third that extended its lead to 12-0.
Offensive standouts included Austin Winslow (2 for 3, 3 RBI, double), Henry Saul (double, 2 RBI), Kevin Niedzwiedz (3 for 3, 3 RBI, 3 doubles), Eric Gonzalez (2 for 4, RBI), Charlie Saul (double, 2 RBI) and Johnson (2 for 4, home run, 3 RBI).
Ryan Boe fanned 7 in 4 1/3 innings, allowing 5 earned runs.
Huntley (12-1) improved to 5-0 in Fox Valley Conference play with last Thursday's 6-4 victory over Prairie Ridge.
Brayden Bakes went 1 for 3 with 3 RBI, including a 2-run home run, while Ryan Kelly delivered an RBI double for the Red Raiders.
Adam Guazzo got the win, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits in 5 innings, striking out 8, while Michael Vitellaro recorded the save with a pair of scoreless frames.
Ryan Quinlan added a home run in the Red Raiders' 3-run third.
Larkin (3-6, 2-5) and Streamwood (3-5, 2-3) split the first 2 games of their 3-game Upstate Eight series, with the Royals winning a 5-4, 8-inning decision last Saturday.
Pitchers Javier Cervantes and Joe Grommes each tossed 4 innings, combining for 9 strikeouts, while receiving offensive support from Peyton Wemken (3 for 5, double, RBI) and Anthony Mora (double).
Sabres junior catcher Nick Weaver fanned 5 of the 6 batters he faced in relief during Streamwood's 8-2 victory last Thursday.
"He's so good behind the plate that it's tough to pull him out from there," said Sabres coach Dan Jennings.