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Prep baseball insider: Marmion 'on the cusp'

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:09 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:12 p.m. CDT
Caption
(File photo by Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Kaneland head coach Brian Aversa and his team after their 2011 IHSA Class 3A state final win over Oak Forest at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. Aversa is set to steer the visiting Knights against his alma mater, Geneva, in nonconference play Saturday. Earlier this month, the Knights traveled to Cincinnati and its suburbs – where Aversa grew up – for their spring break trip.

Marmion coach Dave Rakow presided over one of the wilder wins of his career Thursday, shaking his head and grinning after the Cadets erased a 12-run, fifth-inning deficit to defeat visiting Guerin, 21-16.

“The Guerin game was like a football game with all the scoring in that one,” Rakow said. “Guerin can hit the ball. They hit the ball all night no matter who we put on the mound.”

The Gators dented the Cadets’ Michael Stachura in his first start, forcing Rakow to dip into his bullpen in the first inning. The relief corps helped steady the ship while the offense revved up; Brian Simon and Zach Siwiec drove in three runs apiece.

Still, Guerin, like many Marmion opponents this season, stuck around as Cadets pitching struggled with throwing first-pitch strikes.

“I’m excited. I think we’re right on the cusp of being really, really good,” Rakow said. “Until we eliminate the mistakes, though, we’re just going to be average. But it’s a process. It always is. I’m optimistic, but I’m cautiously optimistic.”

No-no sparks Knights

All victories, if not created equal, count just the same in the won-loss ledger. Right?

Kaneland is making a case for getting on the board in grander style, notching its first win of 2014 with Nathan Hopkins’ six-inning no-hitter at Plano on April 9.

“I think it got us going,” said Hopkins, a senior right-hander. “Everybody is getting ready for [this] week. We’re getting the bats together and the defense is looking good. We’ve got the energy ready for conference.”

While Monday’s winter redux postponed the Knights’ Northern Illinois Big 12 East opener against Rochelle, Kaneland hardly is a stranger to staying patient. The team’s spring break trip to Cincinnati was disrupted by bad weather, eventually whittling the itinerary to just one game.

The Knights grabbed an early lead against traditional Ohio power Archbishop Moeller before surrendering a game-changing rally.

“The first couple games, we think we’ve definitely made it harder on ourselves rather than giving us the best chance to win,” senior first baseman Ty Carlson said.

No-hitters have ways of turning the tide.

Waiting to exhale

A tight game at last went St. Charles East’s way Thursday when the Saints rallied for a 2-1 victory at South Elgin. Consecutive shutout losses – 1-0 to Sandburg and 2-0 to West Chicago – preceded the victory.

Ben Smith’s two-run single in the seventh snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak while also renewing confidence the Saints still can win behind pitching and defense.

“If we can keep teams to one run or no runs a game, we’re going to win some ballgames, which is good,” senior center fielder Brannon Barry said.

Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

IN THE GROOVE

Nick Derr

Geneva, So., SS

What he did: Derr’s three home runs – including a walk-off to end the game – helped boost Geneva past Conant, 13-12, on Saturday.

Nathan Hopkins

Kaneland, Sr., P

What he did: Hopkins delivered the Knights’ first victory of the season on April 9, throwing a six-inning no-hitter against host Plano.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

It’s easier to find a Stan Mikita’s in Aurora than to win at Aurora Central Catholic. OK, so maybe that’s a stretch since Mikita’s is the fictitious restaurant of “Wayne’s World” fame, but the Chargers’ 18-game home winning streak still says something. ACC will go for its 19th successive home victory against IC Catholic Prep today. Its last home loss came to Oswego on March 30, 2013.

WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

How the next leg of the Brian Aversa reality tour goes. Aversa, Kaneland’s veteran coach, is set to steer the visiting Knights against his alma mater, Geneva, in nonconference play Saturday. Earlier this month, the Knights traveled to Cincinnati and its suburbs – where Aversa grew up – for their spring break trip.

COACH SLY SEZ ...

Pitching and hitting feats, oh my.

It sure was a week to be in the extremes in any facet of baseball. No-nos, three-homer games – what are the odds those happen so closely together considering how tough it’s been to even play this spring?

Here’s to more heroics as the season goes on, at whatever pace that might be.

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