Wildcats tie series; to be continued

The West Chicago Varsity baseball team traveled to Glen Ellyn on April 12 for game two of their series.
The Wildcat baseball team waiting for the field to dry up to start the game
The Wildcat baseball team waiting for the field to dry up to start the game
Photo by Carlos Allen

The Wildcats got set to play the second game of their two-game series against Glenbard South High School on Friday, April 12.

In Wednesday’s first game of the series, the Wildcats shut the Raiders out for a 1-0 win. Senior Tyler Heath pitched the first five innings, and junior Zach Williamson shut the door on the Raiders in the last two. The game’s only run was a home run off the bat of senior Brandon R. Heath.

GBS coach throwing dry dirt on the mound before the game. (Photo by Carlos Allen)

The Raiders were 1-5 in their first six matchups, but they have made changes to their game and are now sitting at 4-7 before Friday’s game.

West Chicago is holding onto a 4-6 record after splitting their first in-conference series with Larkin.

The game on April 12 was delayed for almost an hour after the field was not playable due to rain, and the tractor used to smooth the field broke down and had to be towed off.

After all the pre-game chaos, the sun started to shine. Junior Tommy Burke toed the rubber for the Raiders.

The Wildcats started off hot with singles from brothers Tyler and Brandon Heath, putting them in scoring position for fellow senior Kyler Campbell. Campbell hit a liner into right field to score Brandon Heath, and Tyler Heath advanced to third.

After Campbell’s RBI, junior Tommy Doyle came up to the plate and ground chopper to first. Then Tyler Heath scored after a dropped throw by Tim Ewald at third; Heath got into a rundown between third and home. The inning would end after a strikeout from senior Dominic Cicero and a groundout by Williamson. The Wildcats led 2-0.

Sophomore and left-handed pitcher Ashton Aldaco took the mound once more for the Wildcats – his second start of the season. Under his arm, Raiders leadoff hitter Joe DeMeo lined a ball into the left-center gap, but got thrown out by Doyle from center while trying to stretch it into a double. A strikeout from Ewald gave the Wildcats a second out of the inning.

A GBS maintenance worker on his radio trying to get some help with the tractor. (Photo by Carlos Allen)

Shortly thereafter, Glenbard South’s Gavin Pogorzelski (’26) made it to first after a swinging bunt that hugged the third base line. Aldaco got out of the first with no damage.

At the top of the second, senior Ryan Zalak drew a walk after an eight-pitch quality at-bat to get the inning started for the Wildcats. However, Zalak would be the only one on base for West Chicago in the second after junior Zach Kreitzer struck out, Brandon Heath grounded out, and senior Rafa Herrera popped out.

Burke led off the bottom of the second and snuck the ball just over the glove of Tyler Heath at first for a single. Junior Nicky Louapre grounded out into a 3-6-3 double-play, and just a short while later, junior Jacob Garbett struck out to end the inning.

Campbell hit an opposite-field single to get the third inning started. Doyle added to the Wildcats’ success by hitting a hard ground ball between first and second. Next up was Cicero, who hit a slow roller to Ewald at third, but Ewald completely missed it, and the ball rolled past him. DeMeo was behind him and threw home when he saw Campbell run through Coach TJ Nall’s stop sign at third, but Campbell made it home safely by sliding under the catcher’s legs even though the ball beat him to the plate by a mile.

Zach Williamson grounded out into an inning-ending double play, with the Wildcats up 3-0.

Yet, the Raiders came back fighting after Aldaco hit junior Evan Bogue with a pitch. The next player at bat for the Raiders was freshman Joe Cunningham, who lined the ball back up the middle into center field, where Doyle tried to gun Bogue out at third, but chucked the ball out of play instead. Bogue was brought home, and Cunningham was awarded third base.

After Glenbard South scored their first runs of the game, DeMeo hit a medium fly ball to Kreitzer, which, in turn, brought home Cunningham. The inning ended with Ewald striking out for the second time of the day, and Gavin Pogorzoiski flying out to Tyler Heath in foul territory.

Zalak drew another walk to start the inning and advanced to second after a sac bunt from Kreitzer. Nothing would come from these developments, though, since Brandon Heath and Herrera both grounded out to third to end the top half of the inning.

In the bottom half of the fourth, the Raiders went three up and three down with strikeouts from senior Christian Pogorzoiski and Burke, as well as a shallow fly ball off the bat of Louapre.

Neither team scored in the fifth.

Joey Engstrom and team playing tipps before the game started (Photo by Carlos Allen)

The top of the sixth would start with a line drive by Zalak, but Zalak would trip on his way out of the batter’s box and get thrown out from right field. Kreitzer would reach first on a throwing error by Ewald. Following that, Brandon R. Heath hit a liner into left field to put Kreitzer into scoring position for Herrera. Herrera would ground out into a double play to end the top of the sixth.

Ewald started the bottom of the sixth with a ground ball to Brandon Heath for the first out of the inning. The next at-bat, Gavin Pogorzelski, popped up to shallow center for two quick easy outs. Brother Christian Pogorzelski hit a liner into center for a single, but got to second on a stolen base during the next at-bat. Burke knocked in Gavin Pogorzelski on a blooper into right field to tie the game. Shortly thereafter, Loupre hit a liner into left field, but Kreitzer came in on it and made the catch to save a run and end the inning.

Heading into what would be the last inning, with the two teams neck-and-neck, Tyler Heath led off, but struck out, and Campbell had the same outcome in his at-bat. Doyle, however, reached first on a ground-third strike after beating out the throw. Cicero then drew a walk to put runners on first and second, with two outs for Williamson.

Freshman Jacob Ruge came onto the pitch for the Raiders after Burke passed his pitch limit of 105 pitches thrown. Under his arm, Williamson grounded out to Gavin Pogorzelski to end the top half of the inning.

Wildcat pitching coach Greg Bodine said it was a “hellava pitching duel” when asked about the game and the pitching from both teams.

With a chance to walk it off, the Raiders started the bottom of the ninth with Garbett getting walked. Aldaco came back and struck out Bogue for the first out of the inning, but not before Garbett stole second to put himself in scoring position.

The stakes could not have been higher at this point: Cunningham hit a ground ball that advanced Garbett to third, but he got thrown out at first by Brandon Heath for the second out of the inning. With the game-winning run on third, Ewald stepped up to the plate. Ewald was looking to put a hitless day and a poor fielding behind him and be the hero, but that would not be the case: he ground out to second base, where Williamson made a routine play to get him out at first.

“Stellar pitching and sound defense kept us in that game,” Williamson said.

The game was delayed until further notice due to the sun going down –  GBS does not have lights at their field.

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