Prep Baseball Insider: Chargers making major splash
Aurora Central Catholic's football team drew attention in the fall by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
The Chargers' baseball team is in the midst of a similarly dramatic breakthrough.
ACC entered the week with a 12-1 record after sweeping Genoa-Kingston in a doubleheader on Saturday. This for a program that went 14-18 last season and has not had a winning season since 2006.
First-year ACC coach Sean Bieterman acknowledges being somewhat amazed by the team's sizzling play.
"A little bit, in terms of what our record is right now," said Bieterman, also the school's athletic director. "But we knew we had some talent. We knew we had some good kids returning that were going to work hard."
The 12-1 start was the best for ACC since the 1995-96 season, Bieterman said.
The Chargers have been led by a strong pitching staff that features Matt Miller, Andrew Bruss, Matt Rahn, Michael Filder and Michael O'Donnell.
Offensively, Bieterman said Phil Schuetz, Jake McCarthy, Steve Belovich and Shawn Soris are leading the way.
"I'm especially proud of Soris," Bieterman said. "He's caught every game for us. He's just a battler. He competes. It's how he was on the basketball court, too. He makes the most of what he has. Smart kid who works hard."
Leading up to Monday's game, ACC had won 11 straight after falling to Oswego in the second game of the season.
Maintaining the streak this week figured to be treacherous. Depending on the weather, ACC could play as many as eight games this week, including the Chargers' scheduled participation in a wood-bat tournament this weekend.
Games slated for Monday and Tuesday with St. Edward loomed especially large. Bieterman said St. Ed and Chicago Christian project as the Chargers' stiffest challengers in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold race.
Bieterman said ACC has been plucky in pulling out wins on days when it does not play especially well, but he thinks the Chargers still have another gear.
"We're happy with where we're at but we're even more excited about where we can be when we start playing at our full potential," Bieterman said.
Like ACC, Batavia is enjoying mostly smooth sailing, but that doesn't mean Batavia coach Matt Holm doesn't have some tough decisions to make.
Figuring out what to do in right field has been particularly tricky. Aaron Hurd figured to hold down that spot but missed some time with an ankle injury.
Hurd has been productive since returning but Colby Green impressed Holm with his performance in Hurd's absence.
"Colby's been doing a real nice job. … He's gotten some really nice, RBI hits," Holm said. "We're going to let them battle it out a little."
The decision is simplified when Green – one of the Bulldogs' top pitchers – is on the mound. Holm said Green is also capable of playing at third base or elsewhere in the infield.
North Star commits
St. Charles North pitcher Joe Barsanti committed last week to compete collegiately for North Central College, the Division III program in Naperville.
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound Barsanti pitched six innings of three-run ball Saturday as the North Stars fell to Elk Grove, 3-1, in a nonconference game.
IN THE GROOVE
Colby Green, Batavia, Jr., P
What he did: Green threw a complete game, two-hitter on Friday to boost Batavia to a 2-0 win against South Elgin in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover.
Jason Sullivan, St. Francis, So., P
What he did: Sullivan excelled on the mound and at the plate in the Spartans' 5-2 win against Marmion on April 8, earning the complete-game win on the mound and adding three hits offensively.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Bartlett continues to be a nemesis for Tri-Cities baseball teams.
The Hawks, who stunned top-seeded Geneva last year in regionals, handed St. Charles North one of the North Stars' worst losses in recent memory on Friday, crushing North, 13-2, in five innings.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether Batavia can keep rolling in conference play as the schedule turns to UEC River competition.
The Bulldogs open a three-game series with defending UEC River champion St. Charles East today. The teams are scheduled for games in St. Charles today and Thursday and in Batavia on Wednesday.
COACH SLY SAYS
Don't count out Geneva.
The Vikings haven't had the start many would have anticipated, but it's way too early to write this team off.
If Geneva can get and stay healthy, especially on the mound, the Vikings have too much talent to go quietly this season.
Especially with the postseason format, where you can line up your top-of-the-rotation guys, the Vikings won't be a team anyone will look forward to playing.