Pitching, defense the key to Glenbard East turnaround
Pitching has been at the forefront of an early-season turnaround for Glenbard East, which began the year by losing five of its first six games.
The Rams responded with five consecutive wins, all in Upstate Eight Conference play, while allowing a combined six runs during that stretch. Included in the streak were back-to-back shutouts as well as a pair of victories over Glenbard South.
"We had some challenges early in the year," said Glenbard East coach Clayton George. "We started off with Glenbard West and Willowbrook and then went down south (to Nashville). We kind of got our feet wet and we definitely came back ready to go. I was really happy with that."
The one-two pitching punch of senior Caden Krystofiak and sophomore Trevor Rehnstrom has been dominant of late. Krystofiak fanned 15 in a 7-0 blanking of West Chicago on April 5 before striking out 12 against Glenbard South on April 14. Rehnstrom tossed a 2-hit shutout versus Streamwood on April 11 and backed that up with six strikeouts and one run yielded in an 11-1 win over the Raiders last Saturday.
Krystofiak was also hitting .455 through 11 games while Joe Wolsztynaik led the Rams with a .500 batting average.
"It's just about trusting what we are doing," George said. "The guys have bought in really well to what we have been preaching to them. Pitching-wise, just continue to throw the ball across the plate because we've also played really good defense behind them."
The Rams saw their winning streak snapped with a 9-4 loss to West Chicago on Tuesday.
Fun times at Waubonsie Valley:
It's been an entertaining start to the season for Waubonsie Valley, which began DuPage Valley Conference play by taking two of three from defending champion Naperville Central. The Warriors took the deciding game in thrilling fashion on April 14, scoring six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to prevail 17-16.
Mason Ringenbach had the game-winning single to drive in Tyler Patton, an Aurora University recruit who was 4-for-4 in the game with a homer and 4 RBI. Logan Gregorio also had a home run and 3 RBI and Jake Gustaitis produced 2 hits and 5 RBI.
"Our kids battled," Waubonsie Valley coach Bryan Acevedo said. "It was a crazy day with the wind blowing out as much as it was and we found a way to come back and win."
Two days earlier, they defeated the Redhawks 9-3 behind a complete-game pitching performance by Carter King. Gregorio, headed to Benedictine University, also provided further heroics back on April 9 with a walk-off homer in the ninth inning to beat Oswego 4-3.
The Warriors had a record of 7-6 after falling 5-3 to Metea Valley on Tuesday despite Gregorio's fifth homer of the spring. He also has 14 RBI and 16 runs scored. Patton is hitting .400 with 13 RBI, Michael Piche leads the team with a .417 batting average and Jacob Keating has an on-base percentage of .489 to go along with 14 runs scored.
"We struggled a little bit early but the offense has kind of come around lately," Acevedo said. "The big thing right now is trying to play consistent baseball. But we've been finding ways to win some games and that's been nice."
St. Francis bats leaving a strong impression:
An all-state selection as a sophomore after hitting .451 with 35 RBI, St. Francis shortstop Rocco Tenuta this spring has picked right up from where he left off last season. The junior is batting .471 with pair of home runs and 11 runs driven in while also contributing on the mound with a 2-0 record and sparkling 0.43 ERA.
His play helped the Spartans to an 8-5 record through 13 games, which included a 7-6 decision over Wheaton Warrenville South last Saturday and also victories over Montini and Batavia. In addition, junior second baseman Thomas Smith has posted a .471 batting average and a .565 on-base percentage while sophomore Trey Kiesler has been a bright spot behind the plate, with the catcher also hitting .333. St. Francis has scored 93 runs in its eight wins.
"We are still trying to find ourselves," said St. Francis coach Tom Ciombor, whose team has lost just twice to Illinois schools (Andrew and Joliet Catholic), "but we are getting closer to putting a full game together."
Hinsdale South's Hoel glad he came back:
Originally intending to retire from coaching at the end of the 2021 season, Paul Hoel decided to stick around for one more year after a little coaxing from his veteran players. And the longtime Hinsdale South skipper couldn't be happier with his decision.
With seven returning starters back in the fold, the Hornets were expected to be a much-improved team this spring and that is exactly what has transpired thus far. Through 14 games, the Hornets had equaled their win total from a year ago (10-12 record in 2021) with 10 victories, including a three-game sweep of Addison Trail in the opening West Suburban Gold series.
"We've got just a great group of kids," said Hoel, who has been the coach at the Darien school 1995-2005 and then again from 2012 to now. "They do the right thing all of the time, they all get along really well, they compete and they are fun to be around."
Hinsdale South is receiving strong contributions from a group of seniors which includes catcher Kyle Jannenga, first baseman Parker Bozzi, shortstop Eliot Fulscher, right fielder Justin Hill and pitcher Drew Duckhorn. Hill and Fulscher have both hit two home runs apiece while Hill has added three saves on the mound. Junior second baseman Max Waskiewicz is another off to a good start with his bat and glove.
The Hornets, who squared off against top-ranked teams from both Tennessee and Mississippi during their Spring Break trip to Memphis, scored 32 runs in the wins over the Blazers, whom they lost a series to last season. The team also defeated Proviso East 10-0 on Tuesday.
"We've been playing well," Hoel said. "We have been swinging the bat a little bit and our starting rotation has a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and a senior in it so the future is bright as well. Pitching-wise, kids are getting a lot of experience."